Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
STDs are infections that are spread by sexual contact with skin, genitals, mouth, rectum, or body fluids. Although some STDs can be treated, others cannot. People with an STD may not know they have it. ((The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2011). How to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. FAQ009.)) [More on STDs…]
Contraceptives and STDs
There is no contraceptive method that is highly effective in simultaneously preventing pregnancy and STDs. ((Cates W, Stone KM (1992). Family planning, sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptive choice: A literature update—Part I. Fam Plann Perspect, 24(2): 75-84.)) Among contraceptive methods, condoms provide the most protection, but 21-40% of the time condom use fails to protect against STDs. ((Sanghvi H (1996). Contraception and STDs. In: JHPIEGO. Issues in Management of STDs in Family Planning Settings. STDs Workshop Proceedings; Apr 19-21, 1995; Baltimore, MD.))
Chemical methods such as the birth control pill provide no protection against STDs and can actually increase a woman’s risk of getting an STD by 30%. ((Baeten JM, Nyange PM, Richardson BA, Lavreys L, Chohan B, Martin HL Jr., et al. (2001). Hormonal contraception and risk of sexually transmitted disease acquisition: Results from a prospective study. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 185(2): 380-5.))
Female barrier methods such as the diaphragm and cervical cap increase a woman’s risk of vaginal infections. Having any kind of vaginal infection increases the risk of contracting an STD. ((Rosenberg MJ, Davidson AJ, Chen JH, Judson FN, Douglas JM (1992). Barrier contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases in women: a comparison of female-dependent methods and condoms. Am J Public Health. 82(5):669-74.))
Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. ((Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Human papillomavirus (HPV). Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/hpv/)) It can lead to cervical, oral, and/or rectal cancer. Incidence of HPV-related oral cancer has increased by 225% from 1988 to 2004. ((Schlecht HP (2012). Oral human papillomavirus infection: Hazard of intimacy. JAMA, 307(7): 724-5.)) No method of contraception provides total protection from HPV.
So How Can I Avoid an STD?
See STD Prevention.