Men can take the following measures to avoid STDs:
- Know your partner's STD and health history
- Talk to your health care provider about your risk, and get tested for STDs
- Practice safe sex (such using latex condoms correctly and consistently)
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, and human papilloma virus
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 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.
It is important to know that male condoms cannot completely protect you and your partner from contracting an STD. For example, 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
It is important to discuss the risk factors for STDs with your health care provider and ask about getting tested. It is possible to have an STD and not know it, because many STDs do not cause symptoms.
See your health care provider for treatment as soon as possible after receiving a diagnosis of an STD. Notify all recent sex partners and advise them to see their health care providers and be treated. All sexual partners should be treated at the same time, to prevent re-infection. All partners should avoid sex until treatment is complete and your health care provider advises that it is safe to resume.
Many STDs have significant health consequences. Infections from STDs can cause infertility in both men and women. Some STDs can increase the risk of some forms of cancer. STDs can be passed on to the fetus during pregnancy or delivery. A person with an STD other than HIV is two to five times more likely to contract the HIV virus than a person without an STD. If a person is already HIV positive, having another STD increases the chances that they will pass the HIV virus on to their sexual partner.
- Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health. (2011). Birth control methods fact sheet. Retrieved June 4, 2012, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/birth-control-methods.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Condoms and STDs: Fact sheet for public health personnel. Retrieved June 8, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.html