How to avoid STIs

The best way to avoid STIs is to use a condom every time you have sex.

STIs are usually passed on by sex with an infected person, although some infections can be passed on in other ways as well. STIs can be caught during oral (licking, kissing or sucking someone's genitals), vaginal or anal sex and some can also be passed through sexual touching and skin-to-skin contact.

Even if you're using other kinds of contraception to prevent pregnancy, like the pill, you should still use a condom as well. Using a condom every time you have sex is the only way to protect yourself from STIs as well as pregnancy. If you have any questions about using condoms you can get in touch with Ask Brook. Ask Brook is confidential. That means we won't tell anyone you contacted us unless we think you're in really serious danger.

Condoms and dental dams

Some STIs, such as Genital Warts and Herpes, can be passed on through skin-to-skin contact, so although condoms and dental dams can’t protect against all STIs, they are still the most effective way to reduce the risk of picking up, or passing on an infection – including HIV.

Use a condom for vaginal sex, anal sex or oral sex. Male or female condom, it doesn't matter, they both work. A condom acts as a barrier and stops body fluids from mixing during vaginal, oral or anal sex.

Dental dams are small squares of latex which work well as a barrier during sex involving contact between the mouth and the vagina, or mouth and the anus.

You can get FREE condoms from all kinds of places:

  • Brook Centres
  • Other young people's clinics
  • Family planning centres or CASH (Contraception and Sexual Health) clinics
  • GUM clinics

Find out where you can get free condoms in your area here.

Or buy your condoms from:

  • Chemists
  • Petrol stations
  • Machines in public toilets, bars and clubs

Dental Dams are available from GUM clinics and Brook centres

Don't use rubbish condoms that might split. Make sure it's got a BSI kitemark or CE mark on the wrapper. That means they've been machine-tested to a really high standard and you'll be safe from STIs.

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