How can I protect myself against Sexually Transmitted Infections ?

Reading time: 3 min

Prevention is the best form of protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Many people infected with an STI may be unaware of it because they do not present any symptoms and therefore recommendations are to use protection in all types of sexual activity, unless absolutely certain that the other person is healthy (which means they must have recently completed the corresponding tests and the results were negative).

The spread of many STIs can be prevented through the use of barrier methods during penetrative sex and also oral sex.

Barrier methods used to prevent sexually transmitted infections


Male condom. This is the most studied of all methods and is currently considered to offer the highest level of protection.

Condoms do not guarantee complete protection against some common STIs, such as human papillomavirus (the cause of genital warts) or genital herpes (HSV), which are spread by skin–skin contact (because condoms do not cover all areas of skin or mucous membrane). Nevertheless, it has been demonstrated that the use of a barrier method significantly reduces the spread of these infections.

Many couples use lubricants (in the form of water soluble gels or glycerin) during their sexual activities, particularly in the case of anal penetration. Do not use a grease-based lubricant (butter, oil, cosmetic creams, Vaseline®) as they weaken latex and the condom may tear more easily.

Female condom

Polyurethane or nitrile female condom. The correct and systematic use of female condoms can substantially reduce the risk of contracting an STI. 

Latex mouth barriers

Latex dental dams. These decrease the risk of infection during oral sex.

It is important to stress that STIs can be transmitted even in the absence of ejaculation.

Can STIs be transmitted even if there is non-penetrative sex?

Measures to reduce the risk of contracting an Sexually Transmitted Infections

Avoid multiple sexual partners

Limit the number of sexual partners.

Sporadic or unknown sexual partners

Avoid having sex with anonymous or unknown partners.

Injection crossed out

Do not share material that punctures or cuts (syringes, needles, razors, etc.) with other people.

Tattoo machine

Use disposable or sterilised material to perforate the skin (tattoos or piercings).

Sex and drugs

Avoid having sex under the effect of certain drugs as they decrease the perception of risk and level of control over the protection being used.


Do not share unsterilised sex toys or cover them with a condom before each use.

Vaccination and a calendar

Vaccines against some STIs are available: HAV, HBV and HPV. A vaccine is also available for hepatitis A virus which can be transmitted during sex, especially via anal penetration. 

HIV does not discriminate, we are all vulnerable. Protect yourself.

Doubts about the HIV JPEG - 1,75 MB
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Substantiated information by:

Irene Fuertes De Vega
José Luis Blanco Arévalo
Mercè Alsina Gibert
Núria Borrell Iragari

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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