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A buddy told me he doesn't use condoms because he always showers right after sex so he can wash off STDs. Is that true? If I wash up after sex, will I stay clean?

Let’s bust a myth about sexually transmitted infections – they can’t be washed away after sex.

Showering is good personal hygiene, but not an effective tool for preventing STIs (sexually transmitted infections.)  Your friend is passing up a very effective prevention tool: consistent and correct condom use.  Free condoms are available in Manitoba through Street Connections and Teen Clinic, and most grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores stock them.  Condoms are available in a wide variety of textures, flavours, colours and sizes, and we often recommend you find a brand/style that’s right for you and your partner.

Now let’s talk STI testing.  It’s recommended that everyone who is sexually active be tested for STIs on a routine basis.  That means discussing with a health care provider about how often testing might be right for you.  This is important because often STIs don’t have noticeable symptoms (meaning we might have an STI and not even know it.)

You can also discuss condom use and testing with your partner.  Condomless sex poses no STI risk as long as both of you have been tested recently, do not have any STIs, and are not having condomless sex with other people who may have an STI.

Lastly, people sometimes confuse having an STI or not, with being dirty or clean.  STIs have nothing to do with cleanliness and are the natural consequence of living in a world with viruses, bacteria and germs.  Infections happen because these viruses are always looking for a host, not because we are dirty or clean.  Even the strictest neat-freak is vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, post-sex shower or not.

The answer then? Prevention tools, testing and treatment to avoid or manage STIs.