The best way to avoid contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is to not have sex. This is not most people’s favorite choice. The next best thing is to make sure your sexual encounters are safe, and to get tested afterward. Your next potential partner may not even be aware they are infected. You see, a lot of STDs don’t even show any signs or symptoms. It’s possible to sleep with someone with an STD and not contract it, but you should still be taking the proper precautions when it comes to your sexual health.
If your sexual partner tells you that they have an STI, you may be worried that you were exposed to the infection during sex. Let’s unpack this situation and explore your next steps.
What are the Chances of Getting an STD After One Time?
There it is. The big question that leads so many people to at-home STD testing services: “what are the chances of getting an STD one time with an infected partner?” As you can probably guess, the answer is complicated.`
First of all, don’t become lulled into a false sense of security. Just because you woke up the next day without any telltale symptoms or strange new itching sensations, that doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Believe it or not, some sexually transmitted infections may take up to three months to be detected. Many may never show any visible symptoms at all. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Put plainly, testing regularly for a full range of the common STDs is the best defense available.
Is It Possible to Not Get an STD from Someone Who Has One?
Depending on the STD, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that you won’t be immediately infected. But put frankly, the human immune system rarely offers guarantees. So, while it is quite possible that you won’t get infected, you should certainly not take that for granted. After all, there can be severe consequences for ignoring a potential infection.
Testing regularly is the only way to stay safe, but that’s where we typically fall short. Many adults in the U.S. have never been tested for any STIs other than HIV. This prevents those who are infected from receiving much-needed treatment and makes it more likely that they’ll spread the infection to someone else.
The CDC estimates that there are over 20 million new infections each year. Sexually transmitted infections have become a fact of life. Fortunately, the vast majority of these infections are treatable and even curable… but you have to detect it to treat it.
Being Monogamous Isn’t a Foolproof Solution
What about those of you in committed relationships? Contrary to popular belief, sticking with a single partner is not foolproof protection from STDs. It’s sad, but even if you have been a wonderful, loyal partner… you can’t always guarantee your partner’s honesty. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Our partners can be imperfect. In fact, many may say that we live in a world fraught with rampant cheating. Studies have indicated that between 30–60% of married individuals engage in some form of extramarital sex. To this point, you need to look after yourself and your health. Every adult, even those in committed relationships, should still test regularly . Sexual health is part of our overall general health. We wouldn’t stop showering because we got married, so we shouldn’t stop testing either.
Remember, practicing safe sex is the best way to avoid contracting an STD. Each and every time you engage in sexual activity, including oral and anal sex, practice these safe sex habits:
- Use condoms. Every time. Whichever forms of protection you use, like condoms or female condoms, make the decision to never have sex without a condom. The same is true whether your sex life involves anal, oral or vaginal intercourse.
- Get tested regularly. Encourage your partner to do the same. Be consistent about getting tested and treated. If you are being treated for an STD, do not have sex until you are done with treatment. Otherwise, you and your partner could still pass the disease back and forth.
- Only have sex within a monogamous relationship. Even though you can never truly know whether your partner has been completely loyal, it does help to know your partner’s sexual history. In the meantime, do your part to remain faithful to one another. Limiting your number of sexual partners won’t absolutely save you… but it will certainly reduce your chances of catching an infection.
- Talk to your partner. Be open with your partner about your sexual history. If you can’t talk to them about sex, you can’t talk to them about safer sex.
- Be comfortable with having sex. You never have to have sex. If you feel uncomfortable, you can say no.
- Be responsible for your own protection. Part of making responsible sexual decisions is being prepared and getting tested.
Sleeping with an HIV-Positive Partner
For people who are at high risk for HIV, there is another safety precaution to consider. If your partner has HIV and you think you may have been exposed to the virus, there is a medication you must begin within 72 hours in order to reduce your chances of contracting the virus. Luckily, if the virus is undetectable in your partner’s blood, it is untransmittable. However, you should still consider PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) if you plan to continue sexual relations with an HIV-positive partner.
With or Without STD Symptoms: Get Tested
If you have had penetrative or oral sex, be sure to get tested. As we mentioned, many STDs and STIs may not immediately show any telltale symptoms. Furthermore, some may never show any symptoms at all. This does not mean that you should take the risk lightly. Test at home with one of myLAB Box’s STD testing kits for the most common STIs and take a proactive part in protecting yourself.
If you test positive for an STI, it can usually be treated with a simple treatment of antibiotics. If your partner tests positive, they may be able to take medication to decrease the likelihood of transmitting the infection to you. It is extremely important that they take all of the medication prescribed in order to make sure that the STI is treated properly. You should not have sex with someone who is taking this medication until they have completed the treatment.