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For Teens: What to Know About STDs

If you’re having sex, or thinking about having sex, you need to know about STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). STDs can cause serious health problems. And not all can be cured. But there are ways to protect yourself and others.

Boy and girl kissing.How Do You Catch an STD?

It’s simple. You catch an STD by having sex. Some STDs spread when body fluids (semen, vaginal fluids, saliva, blood) get passed during sex. Others spread by touching infected areas. It doesn’t matter what kind of sex it is. You can catch an STD if sex involves the mouth (oral sex), vagina (vaginal sex), or anus (anal sex). The risks of catching an STD are even higher if:

  • You have more than one sex partner. 

  • Your partner has sex with other people.

  • You don’t use latex condoms.

What Can You Do?

To prevent problems now—and in the future—follow these tips:  

  • Decide if it’s the right time to have sex.  It’s okay to wait. And not having sex is the only sure way to prevent STDs.

But if you are having sex...

  • Always use a latex condom during sex.

  • Limit how many sex partners you have. The more people you have sex with, the greater your risk of catching an STD.

  • Get checked if you think you have an STD—and get treated if you do.


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