1. Ada
  2. Editorial
  3. Taking care of yourself
  4. How to prevent sexually transmitted diseases

How to prevent sexually transmitted diseases

STDs prevention

April is Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Awareness Month. In 2018, the US Center for Disease Control estimated that on any given day, around 20% of the population has an STI. 1

It’s been harder to collect accurate STI statistics since the COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing remains clear: STIs are very common. 

Despite this, stigma around contracting an STD remains strong. This can lead people to avoid frank conversations about sex or make them hesitant to get tested. 

At Ada, we’re here to remind you that there’s nothing shameful about getting an STI and regular testing will help keep you and your sexual partners healthy. 

What’s the difference between STIs and STDs? 

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) start as infections. Infections happen when bacteria or viruses enter the body and start multiplying. As these invaders take hold, they can develop into diseases, which is when they seriously disrupt the body's normal functions.

Common STD symptoms

Many STDs do not present with symptoms so it’s very important for any sexually active person to get tested regularly. We explore specific STD symptoms in more detail in this article.

Symptoms depend on the STD and can include:

  • an unusual discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus
  • pain or a burning sensation when you pee 
  • lumps or skin growths around the genitals or anus
  • a rash
  • unusual vaginal bleeding
  • itchy genitals or anus
  • blisters and sores around your genitals or anus
  • warts around your genitals or anus
  • (rarely) warts in your mouth or throat 2

Symptoms like a burning sensation when you pee could be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Here’s how to tell the difference.

How to prevent STDs

The only sure way to prevent STDs is not to have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can take some simple measures to lower your chances of getting or transmitting an STD. Exposure to one STD is already a risk of exposure to multiple STDs. That’s why protecting yourself and your partners is so important. 

1. Use condoms or dental dams correctly

No STD prevention method is 100% effective, but correctly using physical barriers like condoms or dental dams greatly lowers your risk of getting an STD.

2. Get vaccinated

There are vaccines available for STDs like HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B. Males and females between the ages of 9 and 45 can get an HPV vaccination, though it’s usually recommended for those around the age of 11 or 12. 3

3. Have frank conversation with sexual partners

Talking about sex can be uncomfortable. However, it’s important to have open conversations about sex to protect yourself and your sexual partners. This means talking about your needs and desires, asking if they’ve been tested, and making sure you use protection. 

4. Avoid sexual contact if you think you may have an STD

STD prevention is about protecting others as well as yourself. If you think you may have been exposed to an STD or if you have any symptoms like unusual discharge, sores, or a rash around your genitals, avoid sexual activity and contact your healthcare provider

5. Get tested for STDs

Anyone who’s sexually active should get a regular STD test. Remember: getting an STD test is nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, it’s a responsible and caring thing to do. Contact your healthcare provider to book a test. You can make an appointment for an STD screening with your healthcare provider or attend a local sexual health clinic. 

6. Avoid sharing towels or clothes

If you think your sexual partner may have an STD, do not share towels or clothes. To be totally safe, you should avoid sexual contact until you’ve received advice from a healthcare provider. 

Anyone who has sex is at risk of getting an STD. But feeling safe is an essential part of a healthy, fun sex life. Taking proactive steps to take care of yourself and your sexual partners will help keep you both healthy and facilitate a more fulfilling sex life. 

So don’t be shy about talking about your sexual health or getting tested. Being responsible is sexy. 

Take care of yourself,


  1. CDC (2021) Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevalence, Incidence, and Cost Estimates in the United States. Accessed on April 16, 2024.

  2. NHS (2021) Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Accessed on April 16, 2024.

  3. CDC (2021) Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know. Accessed on April 16, 2024.



Ada is a global health company founded by doctors, scientists, and industry pioneers to create new possibilities for personal health.

Medical reviewer:


Ada is a global health company founded by doctors, scientists, and industry pioneers to create new possibilities for personal health.