STDs are common and can be serious. But they can also be prevented and managed. These key Habits to Have® will help you lower your risk for STDs, identify STD symptoms, and protect yourself and the ones you care about.
Learning you have a STD can be frightening, demoralizing and undermine your relationships. But, in most circumstances, it’s an easily manageable problem. Try to keep things in perspective. With treatment and common sense, most people with STDs are still able to have healthy, happy relationships.
The sooner you recognize symptoms and seek medical treatment, the faster you can deal with a STD and get on with your life. Learn more about STD symptoms at mayoclinic.com.
If you’re sexually active, make STD testing a part of your regular check-up. But remember: not all tests are routinely offered, and some tests you may need to ask for. And don’t forget that not all STDs have symptoms. Talk to your health care provider about your risk and appropriate testing. Learn more at hivtest.org.
Many STDs can be cured with treatment. See your health care provider if you have had unprotected sex, have any STD symptoms or think you might have been exposed to a STD. Don’t be embarrassed or shy about sharing details from your sexual life with your provider. He or she has heard it all before and won’t be surprised or embarrassed by anything you have to share.
If you learn you have a STD, you need to talk openly and honestly with your current sexual partner, as well as anyone you may have been with in the past. Rather than spending time being angry at whoever might have infected you, give others the gift of awareness so they might also seek testing and treatment.
About half of all new cases of STDs are among young people ages 15 to 24. Talk to your teens about waiting to have sex. Talk to them about the importance of safe sex and educate them about their risk for STDs. See “Talking to Your Kids About STDs” from the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The only truly safe sex is no sex at all. And the best way to avoid STDs is to abstain from sexual activity. If you are having sex, limit your partners and get tested regularly.
Condoms lower the risk of catching some STDs—but only if they’re used correctly. Watch this CDC YouTube video on “How to Use a Condom.”
Consider your sexual partners. People with many sexual partners are more likely to have a STD.
HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer. But not all strains of HPV cause cervical cancer. There is a vaccine that protects against most types of HPV associated with cervical cancer and genital warts. The vaccine is recommended for girls ages 11 and 12, and girls and women ages 13 to 26 who have not yet been vaccinated or completed the vaccine series. Ask your doctor about the vaccine and if it’s right for your daughter. Learn more from the CDC at “HPV Vaccine Information for Young Women.”