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Communicable Disease Control

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases are preventable. Obviously, sexual abstinence is the most effective way to avoid getting an STD. Regardless of your sexual activity, there are some things that you need to know to be able to protect yourself and prevent infection.

"Safer sex" is anything that is done to reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. There are many ways to lower your risk:

  • Abstinence (not having oral, vaginal, or anal sex) is the most effective way to avoid getting an STD.
  • If you do decide to have sex, talk to your partner about STDs. Find out if he or she has ever been tested or exposed to an STD. Discuss previous sexual activity, multiple partners, any injection drug use and shared needles. Talk openly about your sexual history as well.
  • If you decide to become sexually active, go with your partner to get screened for STDs.
  • If you are having sex, limit your number of partners. This may reduce your risk of getting an STD.
  • Remember that one in four sexually active adults are infected with an STD. Get screened routinely for STDS if you are sexually active.
  • Latex condoms may offer protection from some STDs, but they may not protect against genital warts or herpes.
  • Use a condom correctly. Use the following link to find out the right way to use a condom:
  • Use water-based lubricants (such as K-Y jelly*) for latex condoms. Oil lubricants (such as baby oil) can cause a latex condom to break and become ineffective.
  • Do not assume that if you feel okay, you don’t have an STD. If you are engaging in any type of sex, get screened for STDs.

If you do have an STD, talk to your partner. Be open and honest. Tell your partner in a neutral setting. Practice how you are going to tell them before you sit down and have the conversation. Gather information before you talk with your partner so you can be prepared for questions. Discuss getting tested together in the future. Click on the links below to help find ways to talk to your partner about having an STD. or

*Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health.