I think I may be gay, so I’ve been experimenting with other guys. But since neither of us can get pregnant, we’re not using condoms.
You won’t get pregnant, but you could still get an STI or HIV if you’re not careful. For example, herpes is transmitted primarily through skin-to-skin contact, and it stays with you for the rest of your life. And you might not even know you have it for a long time.
The best way to be totally safe is to always wear a condom every time you have sex. Go to a health center and get tested. That will ensure you’re not passing on or receiving any unwelcome visitors. Also, if you ever have female partners, use a condom and make sure she’s on birth control.
You can get STI testing at a clinic near you.
I hooked up with a girl I don’t know. Did I get something from her?
If you’ve had unprotected sex with someone and don’t know their sexual history, it’s a good idea to go to get tested at a health care clinic. Getting tested is important because people can have an STI without even knowing it!
Getting tested will put your mind at ease about your own sexual health. A health clinic can also get you the right treatment if you need it.
The other night I was dancing with a guy at Club Pure and he wanted me to go home with him.
Getting into bed with someone you don’t know can be unsafe. What if he has an STI or you’re not on the same page about condoms and birth control?
So you went home with him, what can you do now? First things first, if you didn’t use any protection at all, meaning no condom and you’re not on birth control, check out emergency contraception immediately. It can prevent pregnancy if you use it within five days. Then talk to your medical provider about STIs and get a plan to get tested.
Now let’s get to the longer-term solutions: Choose a birth control method that fits your life. Always carry condoms. Know your STI status and practice asking about your partners about theirs.
My partner and I are ready to have sex, but he doesn’t want to use a condom.
Having unprotected sex is risky business. If your partner doesn’t feel comfortable using a condom, there are many other birth control options – like the pill, the shot or the ring – that you can use to prevent pregnancy.
But not all birth control protects you from STIs. So if you have sex without a condom, make sure you and your partner get tested first at a health center and are free of STIs.
And always remember—It’s never cool for your partner to pressure you into something you’re uncomfortable with. If you don’t feel comfortable having sex without a condom, you have to stand up for yourself and put on the brakes.
I’m on birth control. Does my partner still need to wear a condom?
It’s great that you’re taking steps to have safer sex. But it’s not just your responsibility; it’s his, too. Birth control prevents pregnancy but not the transmission of STIs. Has he been tested for STIs? If not, ask him to be! And even if your birth control is used properly, there is a chance it can fail. Condoms can provide a back-up way to make sure you don’t get pregnant and to prevent the transmission of STIs.
To get tested, make an appointment at a health center.
Learn about all the birth control methods through the Playbook.
I think I may be a lesbian. Do I still need to worry about birth control?
No matter how you identify, you should use birth control if and when you have male partners. You’re right that birth control isn’t necessary when you’re with another girl. You can still get STIs, though.
Herpes and HPV are transmitted primarily through skin-to-skin contact and can affect everyone. There is a vaccination that can protect you against HPV, so talk to your health care provider if you haven’t had it already. It’s also possible to spread other STIs between girls. The best way to check if either you or your partner has an STI is to go to a clinic and get tested.
Does emergency contraception protect me from STIs or HIV/AIDS?
No. Emergency contraception keeps an egg and sperm from ever meeting and can only protect against unplanned pregnancy. The best way to protect yourself from STIs and HIV/AIDS is by using a condom every time you have sex and for you both to get tested regularly.
You can get condoms pretty much anywhere on the cheap. To get tested, make an appointment at a health center.