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Can you get an STD if you use a condom?

Jul 17, 2000

Can a person get an STD if a condom is used at all times and properly during sex?

Response from Mr. Kull

Condoms, when used correctly during sexual intercourse, are effective against many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). A condom protects you and your partner from exposure to FLUIDS (like semen, vaginal and anal secretions and blood). A man wearing a condom protects the covered area of his penis (urethra, head and shaft) from exposure to virus and bacteria. The condom should also protect the mucous membranes (lining or interior) of the vagina, anus and mouth from exposure to STDs located on the penis or in penile fluids. Condoms are most effective in preventing transmission of FLUID-related STDs.

Condom effectiveness varies when the STD is spread through skin-to-skin CONTACT. STDs that are characterized by lesions or sores on the skin may occur outside of the condom barrier -- for instance, on the scrotum or the exterior of the anus or vagina. Exposed skin or mucous membranes (areas not covered or protected by the condom) coming into CONTACT with these lesions or sores could become infected. Condoms will not protect you from crabs/pubic lice and scabies.

STDs spread by FLUIDS:




Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Urinary Tract Infections/ Nongonnococcal Urethritis

Hepatitis B (HBV) (Hepatitis is also found in saliva, so kissing is a risk)


Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Trichomoniasis (Trich)

STDs spread by CONTACT (skin-to-skin):

HPV/Genital Warts

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

Molluscum Contagiosum



Crabs/Pubic Lice


To increase the effectiveness of a condom in preventing the spread of STDs, try to follow some of these tips:

1. Use a new condom for each act of sexual intercourse and make sure there is adequate lubrication (use water-based).

2. The condom should be rolled down to the base of the penis. This helps prevent slippage and covers more surface area.

3. Hold of the base of the condom while withdrawing after ejaculation while the penis is still erect. Again, this helps prevent the condom from slipping off.

4. Be aware of direct or indirect contact of your partner's semen, vaginal secretions or feces with your mouth, vagina, anus or penis.

The Sexually Transmitted Disease Basics page at The Body has many links to other sources of information. Planned Parenthood has excellent information in their Sexually Transmitted Infections Fact Sheet. Refer to these links for more specific information on transmission, symptoms and treatment of STDs.


P.S. There is a vaccine for Hepatitis A and B. Go get vaccinated if you can!

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