Does Your Birth Control Protect You From STIs?

Have you ever wondered if your birth control protects you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? We all know that abstinence is the only way to completely prevent STIs and pregnancy, but that’s not a practical (or desirable) option for many people. Knowledge is power, so keep reading to see the pros and cons for each method.

Male Condoms

      The Pros

  • Condoms are the gold standard when it comes to STI and pregnancy prevention. When used correctly and consistently, condoms are super effective at protecting you from STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomonas and HIV.[1] Latex is the best type of condom for preventing STIs, but if you have an allergy, polyurethane condoms also work well.

     The Cons

  • Condoms can’t always protect you against STIs that are spread through skin-to-skin contact like human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes and syphilis.[1] Natural/lambskin condoms do not protect against STIs, because they are porous, which allows viruses to spread.[2]

Female Condoms and Dental Dams

      The Pros

  • Female condoms and dental dams protect against pregnancy and STIs when used correctly. These are also a great alternative for people with a latex allergy, since they are most often made of nitrile.

      The Cons

  • Female condoms have a higher failure rate than male condoms, because they can slip out of the vagina or get pushed into the vagina during sex.[3]

Hormonal Birth Control

      The Pros

  • Hormonal birth control of any kind (i.e. the pill, patch, shot, ring, etc.) is very effective at preventing pregnancy.

      The Cons

  • Hormonal birth control does not protect against STIs. If you want to avoid STIs, you’ll need to double up your protection by using a condom.

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

       The Pros

  • Much like with hormonal birth control, IUDs are effective at preventing pregnancy.

      The Cons

  • IUDs generally do not protect you against STIs. There is actually a lot of debate on whether IUDs increase your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), but the consensus is that this risk is low and limited to the first few weeks after your IUD is inserted.[4]

The Bottom Line

If you are sexually active and you want to protect yourself from STIs, the best way to do that is to use condoms the right way every time you have sex. Combining a male or female condom (but never both at the same time) with regular testing, open communication with your partner and visual inspections will help decrease your risk of getting an STI and other major complications like PID down the road.

To find out how you and your partner can get access to quick, private testing for two of the most common STIs – chlamydia and gonorrhea – go to

Last updated: February 25, 2020