How do I Protect Myself from STD’s and unplanned pregnancy?

Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence is a personal decision to refrain from all sexual intercourse: vaginal, anal, or oral. It is possible to get a STD even without having intercourse (penis in the vagina, mouth or anus) through skin-to-skin contact.

If you have sex, choose only one partner who you know well and trust -someone who only has sex with you. This is called “mutual monogamy.” Limiting your number of sex partners helps reduce your risk of getting a STD.

But remember, just because you and your partner may be monogamous with each other, the risk of getting an STD is increased by the number of previous sexual partners either partner has had.

Basically, contraceptives fall into one of two categories depending on how they work:

  1. Hormonal: These methods release specific amount of hormones (something our bodies make on their own as well). This prevents a woman from ovulating (releasing an egg for fertilization). If no egg is released, pregnancy can’t occur. However, these methods do not protect against STDs. Examples include the pill, patch, shot, and ring. Also, these require a prescription, which are available through a doctor’s office or clinic. These methods only work for girls.
  2. Barrier: These methods act as a wall to keep the sperm from reaching the egg; they also can prevent STDs. There are barrier methods for boys and girls: male and female condoms. Both can be purchased at a drugstore without a prescription. Important: Use latex condoms correctly for any type of sex (vaginal, oral or anal) from start to finish.

There’s much more to learn! Check back soon for in depth explanations of different methods of birth control.

(from the CDC and StayTeen.org)