Abstinence from all forms of sex including vaginal and anal intercourse as well as oral sex is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent an STD. However, for sexually active teens, there are other ways to practice having safe sex for STD prevention.
- Limit the number of partners you have sex with. This may lessen the risk of having sex with someone who may have an STD.
- Try to choose partners who also haven’t had many sexual partners. Remember the phrase: “Every time you have sex with someone, you are essentially having sex with every other person they have had sex with too.”
- Do not have sex with people who have injected drugs. Since STDs pass through bodily fluids, this is another possible way STDs can be transferred.
- Don’t have sex with anyone who has shown signs of STD symptoms. However, keep in mind that many STDs don’t show symptoms in the beginning stages of the infection. So, just because your partner does not exhibit STD symptoms, does not mean they are free and clear from sexually transmitted infection (STI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- Use some sort of latex condom, dental dam or female condom every time you have any form of sex including vaginal, anal and mouth to genital. Because many types of STDs can be transferred just as easily through saliva. Mouth-to-mouth kissing with someone who has herpes can also spread the disease whether the person is experiencing an outbreak or not. Also, do not use oil or fat-based lubricants. These only weaken the condom increasing your chances of it breaking during sex.
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs. These can inebriate you, which may cause you to participate in risky teen behavior.
- Don’t practicing vaginal douching. This can cause germs to travel further up in your vagina.
- Do your best to prevent the transference of any bodily fluids like semen and blood. Also, avoid direct mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-genital contact to help prevent the spreading of these fluids.
- Engage in STD testing frequently if you are a female who has multiple sexual partners or if you are a male having sex with other men. Remember, there are many types of STD testing available. Discuss your concerns with a parent or trusted adult including a doctor or physician at your local health care clinic or hospital.
Unfortunately not even half of all teens discuss the risk of STDs, STD testing and concerns with their doctor at annual checkups, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control. More discussion between teens and health care professionals is important for education about STDs and the myths and facts surrounding them. This could help decrease the spread of STDs and other sexually transmitted infections, according to the study. Teens make up a large portion of the 15 million reported sexually transmitted infections throughout the United States each year. Nearly 40 percent of cases of Chlamydia are attributed to teens from age 15 to 19.
“Many teens are sexually active and STDs remain a serious threat to their health. Comprehensive health education in schools, communities and homes needs to be supplemented with communication between doctors and their teen patients about STD and pregnancy prevention,” said Helene Gayle, CDC director of STD prevention as reported in the CDC study.
It is important for teens to keep in mind that some STDs cannot be cure and other types cause painful symptoms including rashes and open sores on the genitals. Remember, there are other ways teenagers can explore intimacy with their partner without having teen sex. Try cuddling, massaging and kissing – as long as there are no sores in the mouth.
Sources: youngwomenshealth.org, cdc.gov