Best Ways To Prevent STDs & Improve Your Sexual Health

Take charge of your sexual health and protect yourself.

Since sexual education in the US is failing to answer actual questions Gen Z has, students are more confused than ever. How can students properly protect themselves from STDs and STIs? And what do they need to do if they end up contracting one?

We’re here to provide you with resources and answer some of your most personal questions about sex ed. It’s time to be responsible for your sexual health to ensure you stay safe when things start to heat up.

What’s the best way to protect yourself from STDs?

If you’re sexually active, the best way to prevent the spread of STDs is by using a condom. You should be using a condom every time you have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) if you’re worried about possibly contracting something from your partner.

Take note, though: you can still get certain STDs, even if you use a condom. It’s not 100% effective against transmitting STDs, but it significantly lowers the risk.

Ways to prevent STDs

There are other ways to prevent getting an STD, aside from condoms.

  • Abstinence
  • Vaccination for hepatitis B and HPV
  • Reduce your number of sexual partners
  • Mutual monogomany

Are condoms effective against STDs?

Yes, condoms are one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of STDs. By properly using a condom when you have sex, you reduce the risk of contracting an STD or STI significantly. They’re 98% effective.

All STIs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact or the transmission of bodily fluids. In some cases, it can be spread through both. Condoms are able to help prevent the spread by providing a barrier over the infected area.

What size condom do I need?

With regards to safe sex, having a properly fitting condom is a must. Don’t over or underestimate—loose condoms are likely to fall off, and tight condoms are more prone to breaking.

The best way to find the proper size is to buy a few varieties to explore the best fit for you. Hit up your local sex shop, as they’re more likely to sell single condoms. That way, you don’t have the spend money on a whole box in case you don’t like how it fits.

Most reliable condoms

The most effective condom in preventing the spread of STDs and STIs are male latex condoms.

For those with latex allergies, synthetic non-latex condoms are another option. Just note that non-latex condoms have a higher breakage rate than their latex counterparts. Natural membrane condoms are not advised for use when it comes to STD prevention.

Which STDs do condoms not prevent against?

Any STDs that are spread via skin-to-skin contact can still be spread while wearing a condom, depending on where the infection is. The STDs that can be spread from skin-to-skin contact are:

  • HPV
  • Herpes
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Syphilis
  • Molluscum contagiosum

How to prevent STDs after exposure

Hygiene is the key here. Maintaining regular good hygiene before and after sex will ensure you reduce the risk of contracting an STD after exposure.

As we’ve said, be sure to use a condom every time you engage in a sexual activity. Washing your hands before and after sex reduces the risk of exposure. Rinsing off after sex also aids in prevention.

Can untreated STDs kill you?

Yes, if left untreated for a long enough amount of time, an untreated STD has the potential to be deadly. Most STDs take a significant amount of time to cause serious damage or death, but it is possible. The STDs with the highest risk of being fatal are:

  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis

Can you get herpes if you have sex with a condom?

It depends on where the herpes outbreak is on the body. If you’re using a condom, ensure the entire infected area is covered. Even if you wear a condom, if the infected area isn’t covered, you have a risk of contracting herpes.

Herpes is also spread via skin-to-skin contact. A common place for a herpes outbreak is around the mouth and lips, meaning you can contract it just by kissing. An outbreak may also present itself on the hands and fingers.

Just note that someone infected with herpes can also have no symptoms or outbreaks but is still able to spread the disease.

Can you get chlamydia if you have sex with a condom?

If used properly, you should be protected from contracting chlamydia when using a condom. Chlamydia is spread via bodily fluids, so a condom has a 98% efficacy rate against spreading chlamydia.

However, if you have oral sex without any barrier, you can still contract chlamydia.

Can you get an STD without having sex?

Unfortunately, yes. You don’t need to have sex in order to contract an STD. Some, in fact, are transmitted orally. While this obviously includes oral sex, you can get certain STDs just by kissing, sharing food, or even using a towel after your partner.

The STDs you can get without having sex are:

  • Herpes
  • Chlamydia
  • Hepatitis

Read our guide on how and where to get STD and STI treatments. Plus, find out which sex ed influencers are making Gen Z feel more confident about their sexual health.