What increases my risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease?

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

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.

Continue Learning about STDs

Undiagnosed Chlamydia
Undiagnosed Chlamydia
The extra fun of sex comes along with the risk of transmitting a virus or bacteria --known as an STD (or sexually transmitted disease) -- during the a...
Read More
How does gonorrhea affect newborns?
Gonorrhea can be transmitted during birth and therefore affect newborns. Fetuses with gonorrhea may ...
More Answers
Is there any research being done on sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Riverside Women's HealthRiverside Women's Health
Yes. Research on STIs is a public health priority. Research is focused on prevention, diagnosis, and...
More Answers
Dr. Diane Harper - How Are Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) Infections Detected?
Dr. Diane Harper - How Are Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) Infections Detected?

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.