STIs, Know Your Risks

What is my risk?

If you are sexually active, the best way to avoid a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is to practise safer sex every time you have sex. Some sexual activities pose greater risk for STIs than others. Educate yourself about the risks of various sexual activities so that you can make informed choices about sex.

What about multiple partners?

The more people you have sex with, the greater your chances of getting an STI or having an unplanned pregnancy.

Unprotected sex (without condoms or dams) and sex with more than one partner are both risky sexual behaviours. It may “feel safe” and “look safe” to have a series of monogamous (only one person at a time) relationships, one after the other, with a partner or a group of regular partners who say they are committed. But serial monogamy is not safe if you are not protecting yourself from STIs. Consistent condom use and STI testing followed by mutual monogamy (one partner only) are far safer.

You can’t tell just by looking at someone or talking to someone that they have an STI. The only way to be sure is to be tested for STIs. If you are sexually active and having intercourse or starting a sexual relationship with someone new, you and your partner should both be tested for STIs – before having sex, and then again three to six months later.

How do alcohol and drug use increase my risk?

Alcohol and drug use can cloud your judgment so that you’re not able to make good decisions. Using alcohol and drugs can lead to risky sexual behaviour, such as not using a condom and having multiple sexual partners. This behaviour puts you at risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy.

When you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is harder to recognize when a situation is becoming dangerous. You could put yourself at risk of being a victim – or even a perpetrator – of sexual assault.

Even if you try to practise safer sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be clumsy when using a condom or other barrier method. If you can’t put on a condom and take it off correctly, you are exposing yourself to the risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy.

Services related to this information:

811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555

Public Health Nursing office

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Last updated: 2019-08-22