STIs and HIV are potential risks of unprotected sex, but by arming yourself with clear and correct info you can make informed decisions about your sex life. Here you will find a summary of the most common STIs and more details about HIV.
It’s important to remember that HIV and STIs usually don’t show any symptoms until late in their progress, so the ONLY way to be sure of your status is to get tested at a clinic – see our link on Testing for more info. Most STIs are very treatable if caught early and you avoid major complications later on.
A lot of people will say that the best way to avoid these potential problems is to simply not have sex. While that may be true, we’re a little more realistic than that. There are lots of ways to reduce risk during oral, anal, and vaginal sex. These different forms of sex can involve penises, vaginas, toys, mouths, hands, etc. In general, the safest sex involves both a latex barrier between those areas of each partner (this could be a condom, glove or dental dam – a square of latex made from a condom that goes between your mouth and a vagina/asshole), and water based lubricant to cut down on friction (because friction can break your latex). If you don’t have both of these things, then latex alone will help reduce your risk. If you don’t have a barrier, then lubricant can help reduce the tiny tears which occur during sex and thus reduce your risk of transmission a bit. Read more for information on exactly how different STIs are transmitted.