How Can Women Protect Themselves from STDs?

How Can Women Protect Themselves from STDs?
José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli

Reviewed and approved by the doctor José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli.

Written by Okairy Zuñiga

Last update: 26 May, 2022

The pleasure and satisfaction of an active sex life are good for any woman’s health. Sex is a great way to reduce emotional stress and is often a bonding experience that can strengthen relationships. Plus, it’s really fun. But sex also has its risks, and it’s important, especially for women, to know how to protect yourself from STDs.

S exually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause emotional, physical and mental discomfort. Also, depending on the specific disease,  it could lead to things like infertility or other serious health problems.

The basics of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)


sex discomfort

The chronic pelvic pain caused by some STDs can impact more than just your sex life. It can actually start to affect your daily activities.

Plus, not being able to enjoy sex can make you see it as a chore rather than a pleasurable activity. Having a healthy sex life takes a lot of work. Luckily, ensuring that your sexual health is okay usually makes it worth the effort.

Remember: if you’re a sexually active woman, you’re at risk for STDs,  and you need to protect yourself from them.

The more partners you’ve had, the greater the risk. But this doesn’t mean that rarely having sex means you won’t get an STD. In the end, you’re not even completely safe from it the first time.

The good news is there are concrete ways for women to protect themselves from STDs. Not all of them are foolproof, but they significantly reduce the risk.

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Get vaccinated

There are currently two types of STDs that you can prevent with a vaccine: human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis.

There are two vaccines that prevent HPV: Cervarix and Gardasil. Cervarix protects against HPV 16 and 18, which are two of the main causes of cervical cancer.

Gardasil protects against the two types of HPV above, and some other kinds that cause most cases of genital warts.

Both vaccines are most effective when administered to women who have just reached an age where they can be sexually active (as teenagers or young adults).

Of course, there’s also the vaccine for hepatitis B.

How women can protect themselves from STDs

Safe sex

Safe sex is the most effective way for anyone, not just women, to prevent and protect themselves from STDs that spread through bodily fluids.

Although using a condom is less effective with diseases transmitted through skin contact, it does reduce the risk.

Safe sex is always be a good choice for preventing STDs. The consistent use of protection, such as condoms, significantly reduces the transmission of diseases during things like anal, oral and vaginal sex.

Never forget that diseases like syphilis, HPV, and herpes can even be transmitted during oral sex.

Get tested

Getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases can reduce the long-term consequences of an infection. For example, bacterial diseases such as gonorrhea can lead to serious consequences like infertility if they go untreated.

Making an appointment to get yourself tested with your new partner before starting a sexual relationship is a great idea, as awkward as it might sound.

In this way, both of you can make completely sure that you’re not putting each other at risk.

Getting tested from time to time will give you some control over this important part of your life.

STDs can happen to people at any age. Even if you’ve had a monogamous marriage or if you’re an elderly person, there’s always the risk of getting an STD if you’re with a new partner.

Get a pap smear regularly

choosing a gynecologist

This should be a routine part of your health checkup. This test detects signs of cervical cancer. Precancerous changes can be treated before they become a serious problem.

Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. Therefore, safe sex and vaccination can help you reduce this risk by quite a bit.

There are several types of HPV that cause cancer and not all of them are covered by vaccines. That’s why pap smears important even if you’ve been given HPV vaccinations.

On top of that, cervical cancer can be very invasive and treatments to counteract it can have very negative effects on your sex life and fertility.

It’s best to know what cervical changes have occurred in your body on the early side. Why wait and let it cause irreversible damage?

Is it really possible to avoid STDs?

The only bulletproof way for women to protect themselves from STDs is by not having sex. However, many experts say that sex is a necessary part of fully enjoying life.

This is why it’s important for you to take the necessary precautions to get all the benefits that sex offers, but also minimize your chances of getting an STD.

Lastly, our advice is to forget about taboos. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting the proper tests, and take control over your sex life. 
No one but you can protect your body from STDs. So, you need to be the one making good decisions for yourself and the people around you.

After all, if people used STD prevention tools and and got tested more often, cases of sexually transmitted disease would be less common.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Greenblatt, R. J. (2005). “Virus del papiloma humano: enfermedades, diagnosis, y posible vacuna”, Clinical Microbiology Newsletter, 27 (18): 139-145.
  • Pimenta, J. M.; Galindo, C.; Jenkins, D., and Taylor, S. M. (2013). “Estimate of the global burden of cervical adenocarcinoma and potential impact of prophylactic human papillomavirus vaccination”, BMC Cancer, 13: 553.
  • Revzina, N. V., and Diclemente, R. J. (2005). “Prevalencia e incidencia de la infección por papilomavirus humano en mujeres en Estados Unidos: una revisión sistemática”, International Journal of STD & AIDS, 16 (8): 528-537.
  • DE, M. D. V. E. L., & AEP, L. 42. Virus del papiloma humano.
  • Tratamiento del cáncer de cuello uterino (PDQ®)–Versión para pacientes. Retrieved 4 September 2020, from

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.