Do you know the difference between an STD and an STI?
Some people think they're the same thing and use the terms interchangeably. But they're not quite the same.
Sure, they represent the same group of viruses and conditions (e.g. chlamydia, herpes, syphilis, etc.). But one's symptomatic (STD), while the other's not, or at least the symptoms could take months or years to develop.
Here's the thing though, despite the slight difference between the two, the prevention methods are the same. That said, let's talk about STI or STD prevention and a little bit about treatment if you test positive for one.
STD Prevention Is Better Than Cure
You may have heard or read that abstinence is the only sure way to prevent an STD. But it's only 100% effective if you're abstaining from all sexual contact. You can be a virgin and still get an STD if you're doing everything but penetration.
The good news is you don't need to abstain. You just need to know the best STD or STI prevention tips. Here are 5 of them.
1. A Condom a Day Keeps the STDs Away
Not that you should buy a condom every day (although it helps to always have stocks on hand). There's nothing more frustrating than being ready to go and finding you don't have any condoms left.
And no, don't even think about using saran wrap or trying the "pull out and pray method." Be smart and use a condom every time you have sex.
2. A Condom + Another Form of Birth Control = Safer Sex
Condoms are around 85% to 98% effective. If you want extra protection, you can use condoms with the pill, IUD, or other forms of birth control.
Just don't use a condom and a female condom together. One condom used the right way is all the protection you need.
3. BYOP (Bring Your Own Protection)
Being in a monogamous relationship where both partners are clean means a lower risk of getting an STD. But what if you're not in a relationship or don't want one? What if you're in a friends-with-benefits situation or have multiple partners?
You need to be responsible for your own protection. That includes not engaging in risky behaviors like taking drugs or drinking before sex. Safer sex is harder to negotiate if one's under the influence.
4. Smart Is as Smart Does
There's nothing wrong with being sexually active. But be sure you're being smart about it. Aside from getting tested before having sex, get vaccinated against hepatitis B and HPV.
Also, don't think that talking about your sexual history will kill the mood. Encourage your potential partners to do the same. Of course, not everyone's going to be 100% truthful, which is why you need to BYOP.
5. Don't Be That Guy (or Gal)
If you tested positive for an STD, stop having sex until you completed treatment and your doctor's given you the go-ahead to resume sex.
Don't keep it a secret either. You have to inform your current and former sexual partners so they can get tested and treated, too.
Embracing Safer Sex
Now that you know the top tips for STI or STD prevention, consider doing extra research. It helps to know things like how can STDs be transmitted and your odds of getting an STD.
For more tips and advice on safer sex, don't forget to check out our blog.