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What increases my risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease?

Bonnie Lynn Wright, PhD
Geriatrics Nursing

Being sexually active puts you at risk of being exposed to sexually transmitted infections. Period. It's that simple. That includes oral sex and other foreplay activities as well as full intercourse, vaginal or anal.

Practicing safer sex will reduce the risk, but not eliminate it. Using latex condoms as soon as possible during sexual activity is the best safety measure there is. 'As soon as possible' means that any contact between genetalia is risky. That often happens between arousal and penetration so using the condom ASAP is best. 

Using a condom, glide or dental dam for oral sex on a female is safer than not using one. A condom can be cut from the outside edge to the center then unrolled to give a flat, protective membrane. For oral sex on a male always use a condom to protect against getting an STI in your throat.

Nothing will protect you from exposure to STIs that lurk outside the areas covered by a condom or glide. For example, herpes virus loves to hang out in the tiny folds in the scrotum.

The only way to reduce your risk to zero is celibacy with no sexual contact at all.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect more than 13 million men and women in the United States each year. STDs are most prevalent among teenagers and young adults. The primary risk factors for most STDs include:
  • Engaging in unsafe sex
  • Having sex with more than one partner
  • Having sex with someone who has multiple sex partners

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.