The more you know about STDs, the easier they are to prevent.

Let's talk about STDs and how you can prevent them.

STD? STI? VD? What's the difference?

Trick question, they’re the same thing. An infection is called a “disease” only when it presents with symptoms. As far as “venereal disease” goes, it’s kind of an outdated term probably used only by your grandparents. (Sorry for that mental image.)

STD Facts

Let's go over some of the basic information about sexually transmitted diseases, shall we?

Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that you can get from having sex with someone who has the infection.

Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

There are more than 20 types of STDs. The most common are chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS/HPV, syphilis, herpes simplex, and trichomoniasis.

Most STDs affect both men and women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can be more severe for women, especially if they’re pregnant.

Many STDs can be treated with antibiotics like you would receive for any other type of infection.

If you have an STD caused by a virus, there is no cure. However, some medications can keep the disease under control.

Tips for parents

Talking to your kids about sex is hard enough, let alone sexually transmitted diseases. Follow the link below to download the Family Communication "Let's Talk" toolkit to help talk to your kids about STDs and pregnancy prevention: GetTheSexFactsOmaha.com.

Abstinence

The only 100% effective method to prevent STDs is abstinence (the act of not having sex).

Avoiding all types of intimate genital contact–including anal and oral sex–is complete abstinence. Even skin-to-skin contact without penetration can spread certain STDs.

Male Condoms

For sexually active persons, correct and consistent use of male latex condoms is highly effective in preventing many STDs.

The act of putting on a condom may seem like common sense, but it’s not. Make sure your penis is fully erect, and for the sake of everyone involved, use a new condom every time.

The good news is that you don’t need a prescription or the approval of a health care professional to get condoms. They’re available at most drug or department stores, and you don’t need to be a certain age to purchase them.

If you’re embarrassed about buying them in public, you can often find condoms at clinics or health centers. Don’t worry, it’s all confidential.

Female Condoms

The female condom is a tube that is used during sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of getting an STD.

Female condoms aren’t as common as male condoms, so it’s important to educate yourself on how to properly use them.

Every time you have sex, insert the female condom into the vaginal canal. Be sure to use a new one every time you have sex.

Just like male condoms, you don’t need to seek out a medical professional in order to obtain female condoms. They too are available at most drug and department stores, as well as most clinics and health centers. Don’t worry, it’s completely confidential.

Communication

Being abstinent, or even using protection are a great start to preventing STDs, but to really understand and prevent the spread of STDs, you need to talk with your sexual partner.

Sure, it might be awkward at first, but it’s a lot less awkward than telling someone you may have given them a sexually transmitted disease. Communication is also incredibly important to maintaining a healthy relationship. It’s a great way to show respect for your partner, and it will make them feel safe, both physically and emotionally.