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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. 

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