What is Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD):
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are a more common condition among sexually active people than you may realize. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 1.7 million Americans are infected with Stds such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Many STDs are treatable with the right medical care, but more importantly, people can avoid getting them in the first place by using the right protection and taking the proper precautions, especially in cases where they have multiple partners.
Types of Birth Control:
There is a broad range of contraceptives that are effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. However, most of them do not offer protection against STDs. From over the counter options to prescription treatments, some of the most common contraceptives are outlined below as well as their effectiveness in protecting against STDs:
- Condoms – Both male and female condoms are effective methods of birth control, and they are also efficient at protecting from STDs. While female condoms provide some protection, they are less effective against STDs than male condoms. The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that male latex condoms are the best way to protect against STDs of all types, including HIV.
- Birth Control Pills – While oral contraceptives are popular due to their effectiveness against pregnancy they do not provide any protection against STDs. Birth control pills need to be used along with condoms to provide protection from STDs.
- Contraceptive Sponges – This form of contraception is placed inside the vagina and contains spermicide which keeps sperm from passing into the uterus. While spermicide kills off sperm and offers protection against pregnancy, contraceptive sponges are not effective in preventing STDs.
- Contraceptive Injections and Patches – These birth control options contain the same hormones as the birth control pill, only they come in different forms. Both contraceptive injections and patches are effective at preventing pregnancy, but neither type does anything to protect against STDs.
- Diaphragms – Diaphragms are a barrier method of birth control that blocks sperm from entering the uterus. While they are useful as contraceptives, they do not offer any protection against STDs.
- Cervical Caps – Cervical caps are similar barrier-type contraceptives to diaphragms, available by prescription from your doctor. They are effective at preventing pregnancy but only partially protect against STDs.
- Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) – IUDs are inserted into the uterus by a doctor. They offer long term birth control but do not provide any type of protection against STDs.
Protection Against STDs:
It’s clear to see that while there are a number of options for Birth control and protection against unwanted pregnancy, they are mainly not effective at preventing the spread of STDs. The best method of protection against STDs, including HIV, is the male condom. Sexually active individuals who have multiple partners, or are unaware of their partner’s sexual health status and history should use condoms every time they have intercourse to prevent infection.
In addition to protecting against exposure to STDs, it’s important to know your current sexual health status, especially when changing partners. Ensure that you’re not passing any infections on to your partners and make sure you are receiving the appropriate medical treatment if you are infected, all by being aware of where your sexual health stands. Testing is the only true way to determine if you are infected, especially since many people with STDs do not exhibit any symptoms.
There are a number of ways to get tested for STDs. STD testing is always confidential, and there are several options available, from seeing your doctor to online STD testing, depending on where you live. Online STD testing provides the same results that your doctor would obtain but can be completed at home through the use of a mail-in kit. This type of confidential STD testing can be completed in just a few minutes and is easy for anyone to use. Results are ready in as little as just a few daysand are conveniently available online,so you can avoid a visit to your doctor’s office.
Regardless of the method of test you choose, any type of testing is a critical step in being sexually responsible and staying safe from STDs.