Top hacks on avoiding an STI

In general, sexually transmitted infections are preventable. We know the only guaranteed way to prevent STIs is to avoid any kind of sexual contact however, for most people that isn’t possible or realisitc. 

There are some other things you can do to reduce the chances of catching an STI and still have an enjoyable sex life. These include:

  • Always use a condom when you have sex where male partners are involved

  • Limiting the number of people you have sex with

  • Talking honestly with potential partners about each others sexual history, and if appropriate look to get tested together before having sex

  • Avoiding sex when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. People who are drunk or using drugs often fail to have safe sex

  •  If you are a man who has sex with men get vaccinated against hepatitis B (HBV). If you are under 46 years of age you can be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV)

Condoms are very good at preventing the exchange of infected bodily fluids. They can also help to reduce the risk of getting an infection from skin to skin contact. However, they don’t prevent transmission entirely. STIs that spread through skin-to-skin contact include:

·         Syphilis

·         Herpes

·         Genital warts

Avoid sharing towels or underwear, as you can catch scabies and pubic lice through doing this as well as bedding, clothing and skin-to-skin

Top Ten Condom Hacks

1.    Checking the expiry date on the condom

2.    Make sure the condom's packaging has not been punctured

3.    Follow the instructions to make sure you put the condom on correctly

4.    Always leave room at the tip of the condom but ensure the air is removed

5.    Unroll the condom onto the penis. Don't try to unroll it before putting it on

6.    Use a condom-safe lubricant during sex (look for water-based lubricants to avoid damaging the condom)

7.    Hold the base of the condom when withdrawing after sex, so that it doesn’t slip off

8.    Dispose of the condom properly (don’t flush it down the toilet, they often return of cause blockages)

9.    Never remove a condom and put it on again

10. The use of a condom if you are having oral sex with a man can prevent the spread of STIs that be passed via the mouth.

Avoid sexual contact if:

  • You think you or your partner(s) have an STI. 
  • you or a partner has genital sores, a rash, discharge or other potential symptoms you or they think may be an STI.

To prevent giving an STI to someone else if you suspect you may have one:

  • Stop having sex until you see a doctor or SWISH and are treated

  • Follow your doctor or SWISH staff's instructions for treatment

  • Don't resume having sex unless your doctor or SWISH staff have given you the all-clear, return to your doctor or SWISH to get rechecked if advised to do so

  • Be sure your partner or partners are also treated

The only time unprotected sex is completely safe from the risk of STI infections is if you and your partner only have sex with each other, and you both remain exclusive to each other. 

Where you both have a sexual history, each of you should have tested negative for STIs, and this should be at least three months after you both last had a sexual partner(s) 


If you would like support exploring how to keep yourself safe The Eddystone Trust can offer community based 1-1 sessions to help you achieve you goals.

To contact the Eddystone trust please call 0800 328 3508 / 01752 254 406 or email