Only condoms have been proven to reduce the risk of getting some STDs.
According to the HHS Office on Women's Health, the male latex condom is the best method for protecting against STDs, including HIV/AIDS.1 Polyurethane condoms are an effective alternative if either partner has a latex allergy. Natural/lambskin condoms do not prevent the spread of STDs because of the presence of tiny pores (holes) that may allow viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B, and herpes to spread.
The female condom has properties similar to the male condom, but researchers have not studied its effectiveness in reducing the spread of STDs as much as they have studied the male condom.
The most common STD is the human papilloma (pronounced pap-uh-LOH-muh) virus, or HPV. No method of contraception can fully prevent the transmission of HPV, because it can infect areas not covered by a condom. However, using a condom with every sex act can lower the risk of transmission.2
If you have questions about birth control and STDs, talk to your health care provider.
If you think you may have an STD, you should see your health care provider. NICHD provides additional information on the symptoms and treatment of STDs.
- Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health. (2012). Birth control methods fact sheet. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/birth-control-methods.html
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Condoms and STDs: Fact sheet for public health personnel. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/docs/condoms_and_stds.pdf (PDF - 1.6 MB)