The best way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases is to avoid sexual contact with others. If people decide to become sexually active, they can reduce the risk of developing an STD in these ways:
- Be abstinent (refrain from sex entirely) or be in a monogamous relationship (both sexual partners are each others' only sexual partner).
- Delay having sexual relations as long as possible. The younger people are when they become sexually active, the higher the lifetime risk for contracting an STD. The risk also increases with the number of sexual partners.
- Correctly and consistently use a male latex condom. The spermicide nonoxynol-9, once thought to protect against STDs as well as to prevent pregnancy, has been proven to be ineffective for disease prevention. It can also be irritating to the skin potentially making transmission of STDs more likely. Do not rely on it.
- Have regular checkups.
- Learn the symptoms of STDs.
- Avoid having sex during menstruation. (HIV is passed more easily at this time.)
- Avoid anal intercourse or use a condom.
- Avoid douching because it removes some of the natural protection in the vagina.
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