by Asma Khan, MD
Talking about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), can sometimes be awkward! But if you are sexually active, knowing the facts about STI prevention is very important in keeping you and your partner safe and in good health.
What are STIs?
STIs are infections that are spread through sexual contact. Other than colds and flu, STIs are the most common contagious infections in the United States. Some of the most well-known STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, syphilis, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Sexually transmitted infections can cause considerable damage to your body, including death in some extreme cases. Sometimes a person with an STI will not show any symptoms, but his or her health can still be affected. Most STIs can be treated and cured, though some cannot.
STI Risk Factors
The following factors increase the risk of getting an STI:
- Having more than one sexual partner.
- Having a partner who has had more than one sexual partner.
- Having sex with someone who has an STI.
- A previous history of STIs.
- Use of intravenous drugs (injected into a vein).
- A partner who uses intravenous drugs.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of getting an STI:
- Know your partner’s sexual history and their current STI status.
- Use a latex condom every time you have sex. Having unprotected sex with an infected partner poses a very high risk of getting an STI.
- Avoid any sexual practices that tear or break the skin. Even small cuts that do not bleed can let germs pass back and forth.
- Get immunized! Talk to your provider about vaccinations that help prevent hepatitis B and some types of HPV.
STIs: What You Need to Know
Staying safe when you’re having sex is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Anyone who has sexual contact–vaginal, anal, or oral–with another person may get an STI. Knowing your partner’s sexual history is as important as knowing your own. The more partners you have, the greater the risk of getting an STI.
Before having sex with someone, make sure you both get tested for STIs. If there is any question around your or your current partner’s STI status, you should both get tested as soon as possible.
Stay safe, and remember that prevention is the key to a healthier life!
Asma Khan, MD, is the Clinical Director at HRHCare Urgent Care, 84 N Highland Ave between High Street and Sickles Ave in Nyack. Along with offices in Haverstraw and Spring Valley, the facility is part of the 28 health center HRHCare network in the Hudson Valley and Long Island providing comprehensive primary care.
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