Take Charge of Your Sexual Health

What you need to know about preventive services

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If you and your partner want to avoid pregnancy, learn about birth control methods both of you can use. The most effective options for men are using condoms correctly and consistently, abstinence (not having sex), and vasectomy (permanent contraception). Your female partner has many more options to choose from. By learning about her preferred method, you can support her choice.

Also learn about emergency contraception (EC), or the “morning after pill,” that she can use to prevent pregnancy if you had unprotected sex. EC can prevent pregnancy if taken within a few days of having unprotected sex. It is available to anyone without a prescription at family planning clinics and pharmacies.

STI Prevention

Using a male or female condom every time you have sex reduces the risk of getting many STIs, including HIV. Other effective ways to protect yourself include abstinence (not having sex) or only having one partner who you know does not have an STI. If you have sex without a condom, have an STI or recently had one, or have a new partner and are unsure of their health status, talk to your provider or a health educator. They can counsel you on ways to protect yourself and your partner from STIs, including whether medicines to prevent HIV infection are right for you. People who do not have HIV but are at high risk of becoming infected can stay healthy by taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) might be prescribed if you think you've been exposed to HIV. Also, consult the resources at the end of this guide for more information about preventing STIs.


It’s Your Body!

You know your body better than anyone. Always tell your health care provider about any changes in your health. Speak to them about any concerns you may have about conditions, diseases, or issues related to sexual functioning or performance.