STI & STD Prevention
How To Prevent STD's
With so many STDs out there, it's no wonder the average person begins to wonder exactly how they're supposed to avoid all of them. With so many misperceptions as to what protects who from this and that it's no wonder people are completely bewildered by what to believe and what to ignore.
This is something there are very few myths about - abstinence cannot get a woman pregnant, cannot give anyone an STD, and is the only 100% perfect method of protection. Although sex has become a large part of our lives in this era, you should never be embarrassed by choosing to wait - even if it's just for a person with whom you intend to have a long-term relationship. Abstinence or non-abstinence is a very personal choice and should be made for your own reasons, whether they are religious or intellectual.
The CDC relates that condoms have been shown to be virtually impermeable to STDs that aren't spread by skin-to-skin contact. This means a condom can be used to stop the spread of just about any fluid-transmitted disease. But - how effective are they? Stanford puts the failure of condoms at 3-14%. This means, out of 100 people, between 3 and 14 either will be infected with an STD or a pregnancy will result. They go on to mention that for every 165 condoms, 1 will tear during intercourse.
Important Note: Latex substitute condoms such as lambskin have been shown to be ineffective against STD transmission. Polyurethane condoms are a safer alternative to latex for those allergic but are less "stretchy" so be careful to purchase condoms large enough to avoid constriction.
Much of the condom failure rate comes from improper sizing and use of the condoms. On average, condoms are roughly 7.5" long, and 2" wide. For most men that is enough to fully encompass the penis while leaving enough of a "dam" at the end. For others, however, the sizing is going to be too large or too small. A condom that's too large may slide off during intercourse, leading to possible transmission and an embarrassing trip to the hospital to retrieve the lost condom. One that's too small can be constricting, painful, and even split open with friction. Each company has sizing recommendations, and you should always follow them - don't let your pride guide your condom selection, for your own safety.
Applying & Removing a Condom
Applying a condom is fairly self explanatory. Pinching the end to be sure you don't pull it on too tightly, place it on the tip of the erect penis with the "rolls" of the condom positioned so that you can easily use your fingertips and with little pressure unroll the condom until it is fully extended. The error many men make here is tugging the condom on like a sock, which can tear it and if you don't leave a "dam" toward the end the semen will have nowhere to go which can cause it to tear the condom as ejaculation is very forceful. You may also watch a Video on How To Use A Condom
Removing the condom is also easy to remember - while the penis is still hard, gently slide the top down and then grasp the tip and tug, sliding the condom free and leaving the top easy to pinch closed to prevent any spillage. Condom removal done improperly may cause STD contamination just as application would.
If you are not in a monogamous relationship, you always want to have routine checks for STDs. Almost every STD, if caught early, can be cured or at least controlled. The question then becomes "how often?" and that's a subjective question. Generally, it's recommended that you and your partner get an STD test once a year, even if you're in a monogamous relationship. If you're changing partners, especially if it's something you do frequently, you should be tested in between each and every partner.
Some clinics will test for free or a fairly inexpensive price, and if you are uncomfortable going to a doctor you can find multiple online venues that will send you a kit and have your samples tested for you without the anxiety of going to a clinic.
You always want to be 100% upfront with your partner about STD testing. Sometimes it is hard to be tactful about this sort of thing! You don't want to be rude or accusatory, but you want to be safe. Sometimes it's best to just be blunt, and not dance around the topic. "I feel like it might be a good idea for us both to get STD testing, just in case." Is the best way of gently introducing it, without moving around the idea or leaving pamphlets on the counter or otherwise trying to avoid the topic while trying to initiate a discussion at the same time.
Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, it does not hurt to get tested at least once or twice every few years. It is possible, although extremely rare, to contract an STD from a non-sexual situation. It's better safe than sorry, so testing is a must. If you're not in a monogamous relationship, catching an STD quickly is the best way to prevent yourself from becoming a "patient zero" who spreads the disease to other unsuspecting partners through simply not knowing you have contracted it.