Protecting Yourself

Abstinence is the only fool-proof way to
protect against STIs

The only way to protect yourself 100% against STIs is to not have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal.)

Communication is key

If you want to have sex, you and your partner should talk about how you will prevent STIs and pregnancy. Before you have sex with each other for the first time, you should both get checked for STIs.  

Condoms, condoms, condoms!

Always use a condom when you have sex from start to finish. Only use one condom at a time and never use a male and female condom together (the friction can cause the condom to break).

Pairing a condom with a water-based lubricant can help enhance feeling, keep the condom from breaking, and protect against infections like urinary tract infections (UTIs).


If the condom breaks or comes off, immediately put on a new condom and think about emergency contraception.

One STI has a vaccine

The only STI that can be prevented by a vaccine is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that causes genital warts and some types of cancers. A very effective vaccine is available that can protect against the most dangerous types of HPV.

All boys and girls, starting at age 11 or 12, should get vaccinated. Males can get the vaccine up to age 21, and females can get the vaccine up to age 26. 

© 2016 UChoose

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CONTACT US was developed by the Baltimore City Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative with additional information provided by the Association of Reproductive Health ProfessionalsBedsiderThe National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and Planned Parenthood. All birth control photography is property of and used with permission.

Know What U Want is a project of the Baltimore City Health Department and The Family League of Baltimore with the support of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, The Maryland Institute College of Art, New Lens, The Abell Foundation, The Straus Foundation, The David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation and The Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation.