STIs Are on the Rise. What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself

The CDC estimates millions of new sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year, and anyone sexually active is at risk of contracting an STI. But luckily, STIs are preventable, and there are steps you can take to protect both yourself and your partner. This article will discuss some helpful tips for protecting yourself from STIs.

Why Are STIs on the Rise?

There are a few reasons why we’re seeing a rise in STIs:

  • Lack of awareness/not using protection
  • Not enough testing
  • Substance abuse, which tends to intersect with HIV and hepatitis


When used correctly, latex condoms can be up to 98% effective. The key to using condoms effectively is ensuring the fit is just right and not too loose or tight. But beware – some condoms contain spermicide, a chemical designed to prevent pregnancy; and while this kills sperm, it may also cause skin irritation, making you or your partner susceptible to STIs.

When using lube with condoms, make sure it’s water or silicone-based. Oil-based lubricants can damage latex, leaving you vulnerable to STIs.

Dental Dams

Oral sex can transmit diseases just as easily as vaginal or anal sex, but it’s often overlooked. Dental dams are pieces of latex that act as a barrier for oral sex, protecting against herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis.


There isn’t a vaccine for every STI, but vaccines are available for hepatitis B and HPB. While they aren’t 100% effective, a vaccine paired with another means of protection, such as condoms or dental dams, is a highly effective way to protect yourself against contracting STIs.

Get Tested

While testing doesn’t directly protect you from STDs, regular testing ensures you aren’t carrying any asymptomatic infections or spreading them. Another major plus is that this often results in catching and treating STIs quickly before they’ve had time to “set in.”


This won’t be the most comfortable conversation you’ve ever had, but being open and honest with your partner is extremely important. If you’re with a potential sexual partner that isn’t willing to share this information with you – or you don’t have a good feeling about their honesty (or lack thereof) – you can always opt out of engaging in any sexual activity until you know.

Consider Monogamy

The more partners you have, the more likely you are to acquire an STI. So if monogamy aligns with your lifestyle, just consider it.

Get Your Annual Pap

It’s recommended that women start getting pap tests at the age of 21. A pap entails your doctor taking a small sample of cells from your cervix to screen for cervical cancer. This test will also show if you have HPV or other STIs. Paps are suggested regardless of sexual activity, and your doctor will let you know how frequently they recommend getting them.

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