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Condoms, dental dams and other barriers offer very good protection against many STIs. They create a barrier between the penis, mouth, vagina or rectum to lower the chances of passing STIs from one person to another. Lubrication is often used with protection to make sex safer and more pleasurable. Protection is recommended each time you have vaginal (frontal), anal and oral sex.
You can use different kinds of protection for different sexual activities. External condoms (also called male condoms) offer excellent protection for vaginal (frontal), oral, and anal sex, but do not protect skin around the genitals. Internal condoms (also called female condoms) cover more skin and offer more protection for STIs such as herpes and genital warts (HPV). Dental dams are used as barriers for oral sex.
Learn how to use different kinds of protection for safer sex:
- Nonoxynol-9 and other spermicides can irritate the vagina and rectum, making it easier to get an STI
- Vaseline, petroleum based oils and creams should not be used with latex condoms
- Saran wrap or other home products have not been safety tested so they may not prevent STIs
Talk to Partners about Protection
It's a good idea to talk with partners about using protection. A lot of people find sex more exciting when they know the basics of safer sex are taken care of. Whether you know your partner really well, or not at all, sometimes a little talk can go a long way to making sex better and safer for both of you.