First of all, great job taking charge of your sexual health and getting important information!
STI stands for sexually transmitted infection. Teen Clinic chooses to use the word infection instead of disease. The term disease can imply a clear medical problem with obvious signs or symptoms. However, most sexually transmitted infections have no signs or symptoms, so we prefer the word infection.
It’s good to know that when it comes to STIs, there are four modes of transmission. They are…
- Vaginal fluids
- Skin to skin contact
In order for someone to contract an STI, they would need to engage in sexual activity with a person who already has an STI in which one or more of these modes would come into play. Although STIs can be common, remember that they are preventable!
STIs can be transmitted through oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex. Many people think that because oral sex isn’t necessarily penetration, there is little to no risk. But the fact is, you can get all STIs (except for pubic lice) when engaging in oral sex with someone who has the infection.
But the good news is that there are ways to prevent STI transmission from happening! Using a condom for oral sex on a penis will help drastically reduce your risk of transmitting an STI. If oral sex is being performed on the vagina or anus, a dental dam can be used to help reduce your risk also! You can pick up free condoms and dental dams at Teen Clinic!
Female (or internal) condoms and male (or external) condoms will also help reduce STI transmission during anal or vaginal sex.
If you are engaging in any sexual activity where sperm may come in contact with the vagina, in addition to the possibility of contracting an STI, there is also risk of pregnancy when having unprotected sex. Because both the risk of contracting an STI and/or pregnancy are so high, it’s important to use a condom correctly, consistently, and 100% of the time!
It’s important to know though that 75% of people with vaginas and 50% of people with penises show no symptoms of the most common infections! So even if you or your partners don’t have any symptoms of an infection, it’s still a good idea to get tested periodically. Some people get tested every time they have a new partner, every 6 months, or even once a year based on their risk factors. You can test for STIs 14 days after sex to get an accurate result.
Remember that the only 100% way to prevent STIs and pregnancy is to practice abstinence. Teen Clinic defines abstinence as refraining from oral, anal, and vaginal sex.
But for someone who is choosing not to practice abstinence, condoms, dental dams, and getting testing regularly will drastically reduce the risk of STI transmission.