- Go Double Dutch
Going 'double Dutch' means using two forms of contraception when you’re having sex, for example the pill and condoms. Condoms are the best way to protect yourself and your partner against STDs during intercourse, but with typical use, 14 percent of women get pregnant when they use condoms as their only birth control method for a year. So combining condoms with another method is a surefire way of protecting yourself from STDs and unplanned pregnancy.
- Talk to your partner about it
If you want to have safe sex, you need to talk to your partner. Talking about condoms and other forms of contraception may seem a bit embarrassing for you, but it's much less awkward than a pregnancy scare or itchy, painful genitals!
Also, you should talk to your partner about their sexual history: how many people did they have unprotected sex with, do they get regular check-ups and STD test and what kind of birth control do they prefer? And just as with talking about condoms, there's nothing embarrassing about being responsible and staying safe and healthy!
- Know the basics about STDs
You may have heard some tales about sexually transmitted diseases. Like, as long as someone looks healthy and their genitals look fine, they probably don’t have an STD. Wrong! Or if you wash your genitals before and after sex, it will stop you getting an STD. Wrong!
It helps to know some basics about STDs if you want to make the right decisions. What they are, how you can get them and how you can protect yourself from them. And know what the myths around STDs and safe sex are. That will also help you in case you have to convince your partner to use condoms.
- Make condom blunders
Many things can go wrong when you use condoms, so it's important to get it right. Use a condom on a banana or a cucumber first to practice if you’ve never used one before.
Also, remember the basics: never reuse a condom – use a new one every time you have oral, vaginal or anal sex. Never use a male and female condom at the same time, they can slip. Don't use condoms that are out of date (check the date on the pack) or broken. Always hold the condom in place when you pull out the penis.
Those are just a few basics. Read more here about the ins and outs of condoms and more about putting on condoms.
- Upset the vagina
Vaginal irritation removes the normal bacteria that protect the vagina from infection. And that can increase your chances of getting an STD.
Many things can cause vaginal irritation. For example, using lots of soap or douches aren't good for the vagina.
And products that you’re supposed to put in your vagina to dry it out for ‘dry sex’ or 'vaginal tightening' will also irritate the vagina inside and make you more likely to get STDs. A dry vagina isn’t clean, it’s unhealthy.
Don’t switch between anal and vaginal intercourse without cleaning the penis or sex toy, or use a fresh condom. Some of the bacteria found in the rectum can cause irritation in the vagina.
- Give up sex because you've got an STD
If you or your partner gets diagnosed with an STD, you may feel you have to stop having sex. But you don't need to. If you use a condom correctly, it will minimize the chances of passing on the STD.
Many STDs are easily treatable, but even if you get treatment, keep using condoms until you get a green light from the doctor. That's because having sex with an STD that isn’t fully cured (or reappears occasionally, like genital herpes), will increase your chances of getting other STDs, such as HIV.