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STD Basics

To stay sexually safe and healthy, you need to:

  1. Use condoms.
  2. Reduce the number of sex partners you have.
  3. Get STD checkups every three to six months.

Condoms prevent transmission of:


when the source of infection is covered.

Condoms can reduce the risk of cancer from HPV (genital warts) as well as repeat infection.

How to use a condom correctly

  1. Store condoms in a cool, dark place. Check the expiration date before opening.
  2. Open the package, being careful not to nick or tear the condom with your fingernails or teeth.
  3. Hold the tip between your thumb and forefinger. Leaving a space at the head of the penis for semen, with your other hand, unroll the condom over the penis shaft.
  4. After ejaculation, hold the condom at the base of the penis and pull out of your partner's vagina or anus while the penis is still erect.
  5. Roll the condom gently towards the penis head and remove. Throw it in the trash.

Tip: For fun, try having your partner put on your condom with his or her mouth.
Tip: Put a drop of lube inside the condom to increase sensation (water-based only).
Tip: Using condoms makes men last longer in bed - which usually makes their partner(s) happier.

If a condom breaks...

...during intercourse, pull out and replace it. Guys should be able to tell if a condom breaks while they're thrusting.

...and semen leaks into the vagina or anus, ask a clinician about emergency contraception and/or post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV within 72 hours.

Alternatives to latex

  • Female condom AKA the Reality condom
  • For vaginal sex: Made of polyurethane, not latex, the female condom fits inside the vagina like a diaphragm and also covers the vulva. The man doesn't have to stay hard for the entire time it's being used, which can be an asset. It is not as effective as the male condom, but provides some control for a female partner over preventing pregnancy and STDs.
  • For anal sex: Some men are using the Reality female condom for anal sex, mostly because of previous problems with male condoms and their partners' preference for the Reality ones. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the Reality condom for anal sex.
  • Polyurethane male condoms
    These are a good (and only) alternative for people allergic to latex. In 2002, research was presented at an FDA Science Forum that polyurethane condoms were as effective in protecting against STDs as latex ones. You can use oil-based or silicone lubricants with polyurethane condoms.
  • Lambskin condoms
    These are ineffective in preventing transmission of STDs including HIV and not recommended by the FDA for this use.

Last modified on Tuesday, April 04 2017.
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