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Do I have to stop having sex if I have an STD?

Many people are anxious about what will happen if they find out they have an STI (sexually transmitted infection) so thanks for this question.  The great news is that no, you don’t necessarily have to stop having sex if you find out you have an STI.  Medication is available to cure most STIs, and even the ones without a cure have medications or management strategies so that sex is still an option.

Sexually transmitted infections are very common and you can take steps to keep yourself and your partners informed and protected.  It’s important to discuss your STI status with your partner(s) if you haven’t already.  It’s a good time for them to be tested for STIs.  Partners who don’t know they have an STI can’t seek treatment, may end up affecting their health on the long term, can pass it to other people, or transmit it to you again.  Share Your Results has some handy tips for starting the conversation.

We recommend using condoms, lube or oral sex dams and finding out from your doctor if there are other preventative measures that can keep you and your partners safe while continuing to be sexually active.

If you are being treated for syphilis, gonorrhea or chlamydia your clinician may advise you to avoid sex until the medication clears the infection.  If it’s not possible to avoid penetrative or oral sex during this time it’s very important to use barriers like condoms or oral sex dams.

If you have herpes there may be times when you want to temporarily avoid having sex because of the increased likelihood of passing it to your partner(s).  This can include when you feel like you have a herpes episode starting or if you are currently experiencing sores or lesions.  Herpes is passed through skin to skin contact, so even using a condom at this time may not be effective as there is still a lot of skin that is outside the condom that will come in contact with your partner’s body.  The internal condom (or female condom) that is worn in the vagina or the anus may offer a little added protection, but is still not fail proof during a herpes episode.  If you are experiencing frequent herpes outbreaks talk to your doctor about medication that may help suppress those outbreaks.

Getting tested to find out your status is a great place to start.  Once you know, you can discuss how to move forward from there and get back to a safe, satisfying sex life!