Many people assume that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are only spread through certain sexual behaviours like having multiple partners, but that isn't true. Most STIs are spread through sexual contact with an infected person, but some infections are transmitted in ways you may not expect. This includes kissing, sharing razors, and consuming contaminated drinks.
There are many types of STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV), among others. These infections can have serious health consequences if left untreated, including infertility and chronic pain.
If you're sexually active, you could be at risk of catching an STI. It's not realistic to think that people are going to use a condom every time they have sex. So the question is how to prevent STI transmission?
How to prevent STIs
There are several steps you can take to prevent STIs and reduce your risk of catching them. In this blog, iPlaySafe will explore the best ways to avoid catching STIs.
- Practice safe sex. One of the best ways to prevent STIs is to practice safe sex. Use condoms if you're having sex with a new sexual partner and you don't know their sexual history, and make sure you have both been tested. If you're worried about bringing up "that" conversation - iPlaySafe has a solution. Order a home STI test kit, and you'll receive your results through the free app in the form of a results badge. This can be shared with your partner before you become intimate.
- Get tested regularly. Be proactive rather reactive when it comes to your sexual health. Regular STI testing can prevent transmission of infections. If you're sexually active, it's recommended to get tested for STIs every six months, or more often if you have multiple partners. Getting tested can help you identify any infections early on, which can make treatment more effective and prevent the spread of the infection to others.
- Talk to your partner. Having an open and honest conversation with your partner about their sexual history and STI status can also help prevent the spread of infections. If your partner has an STI, it's important to take steps to protect yourself when necessary. For example, if they are living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) you should take PrEP to prevent HIV transmission. If your partner has an STI that spreads through skin-to-skin contact, such as genital herpes, avoid sexual contact during breakouts.
- Practice good hygiene. Practicing good hygiene can also help prevent the spread of STIs. This includes washing your hands regularly, especially before and after sex, and cleaning your genitals thoroughly after sex. Avoid sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that may come into contact with bodily fluids. Whilst it's rare to catch an STI from a razor, it's possible. Infections like herpes and HPV are not only spread through skin-to-skin contact, but through open cuts on the skin. HPV can cause genital warts and is also transmitted through oral sex, and vaginal and anal sex.
- Get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated against certain STIs, such as HPV and hepatitis B, can also help prevent the spread of these infections. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both males and females between the ages of 9 and 26. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants and children, as well as adults who are at high risk for the infection.
- Know the symptoms. Knowing the symptoms of common STIs can also help you identify an infection in the early stages and seek treatment. Some common symptoms of STIs include pain or burning during urination, unusual discharge from the genitals, and sores or bumps on the genitals or mouth. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should get tested and seek treatment right away.
In conclusion, effective STI prevention requires a mindful approach to your sexual health. Use condoms when necessary, get tested regularly, and have open conversations with your partners. By taking these steps, you can reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted infections and contribute to ending the cycle of STIs.