Question

Thanks alot for this forum. You are really doing a great job in educating us. I believe after reading all the questions and answers, I feel comfortable in how to protect myself against HIV (by using the condoms correctly). However, transmission of STDs is not clear to me. You said condoms might not be very effective in preventing other STDs especially those that are ransmitted through skin-to-skin contact. How exactly do they transmit? Does this mean that if my finger or my intact skin touches the infected spot then there will be transmission?? Or the transmission only occur from the infected spot to my annus, urethra, and mouth or to a lesion part of my body only??

In a summary, how can I protect my self from all STDs??

Answer

This type of question is always difficult to answer because STDs can be quite different from one another. Remember, you are talking about entirely different infections that are categorized into a behavioral category of transmission--that is, sexual. Many of their similarities end there.

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:

Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Urinary Tract Infections/ Nongonnococcal Urethritis Hepatitis B (HBV) (Hepatitis is also found in saliva, so kissing is a risk) Syphilis Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Trichomoniasis (Trich)

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

HPV/Genital Warts Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Molluscum Contagiosum Chancroid Syphilis Crabs/Pubic Lice Scabies

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

  1. Use a new latex 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 only way to completely protect yourself from STDs is to abstain from sexual contact, which is not a realistic long-term option for most people. The Sexually Transmitted Disease Basics page at The Body has many links to other sources of information.

RMK