Calculating Your STD Risk Profile

How Worried Should You Be?

Everyone who is sexually active is at risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease. How high is your risk of STDs? Well, it depends both on who you are and who you're sleeping with. Although I've always believed that everyone should practice safer sex in every sexual encounter with every sexual partner, I realize that that may not be realistic. So I've developed this list of questions that people can ask themselves in order to start thinking about risk.

Although you can still contract an STD even if you fall in the lowest risk category, some people are in more danger than other.

Individual Factors

These are things about you and your choices that reduce (+) or increase (-) your risk of acquiring an STD.

+ Choosing to be sexually active only in a long-term monogamous relationship.
+ Being comprehensively screened for sexually transmitted diseases before having sex with a new partner.
+ Always asking a new partner to undergo STD testing before starting to have sex.
+ Always using male condoms, female condoms, dental dams, and other safer sex practices when having sex - even in long-term monogamous relationships.
+ Always carrying a condom, and carrying it properly, if sex may occur.
- Using drugs or alcohol before sex
- Practicing serial monogamy
- Inconsistent condom use or no condom use
- Not using practicing safer-sex for oral sex
- Not being screened or tested regularly for STDs
- Being younger (women only)
-/? Not being circumcised (men only)
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Having an STD already
- IV drug use
- Crystal Meth use
- Hooking up with anonymous partners you "met" online or in bars

Partner Factors

These are things about your partner and his or her choices that increase (-) or reduce (+) your risk of acquiring an STD.

+ Having no other concurrent partners
+ Having had very few, or no, other partners in the past
+ Always practicing safer sex - even in long-term monogamous relationships
+ Being regularly screened for STDs
+ Being willing to discuss safer sex and STD testing before you have sex
- Believing, and/or trying to convince you of one or more myths about who needs to practice safe sex
- Trying to convince you that condoms aren't necessary
- Using drugs or alcohol before sex
- Having other sexual partners, particularly those who use drugs or alcohol.
- Telling you that because he/she has no symptoms he/she can't have an STD.
- Only practicing safe sex for vaginal, and/or anal sex but not for oral sex.

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