If you’ve ever been diagnosed with an STI, you’ve likely peppered your doctor with a rundown of questions. But once you’ve pinned down what’s going on in your body or what treatment(s) you need, a simple question remains: Can I have sex?
Stacey A. Rizza, M.D, an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic outlined a few distinct scenarios. The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no.
If You Are Treating Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, or Syphilis
When you’re being treated for an STI, you generally have two options, says Rizza: Abstain from sex entirely or use barrier protection. Which is best depends on the STI you’re treating. If you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, or syphilis and are being treated for it, assuming you don’t have any exposed lesions (read: open sores)—which could infect a partner—it’s safe to have sex with a condom, says Dr. Rizza.
If You Are Treating Herpes or Primary Syphilis
If you have a lesion outside of the area a condom covers (common in STIs such as herpes or primary syphilis), sorry: You’ll need to wait until said lesion clears up before engaging in sexual activity. This’ll prevent you from infecting your partner.
If Your Partner Is STI-Free
If you’re in a monogamous relationship and your partner is STI-free, you can go back to having oral, anal, and vaginal sex sans protection a week after your antibiotic course has finished, Dr. Rizza says.
The bottom line: Make sure both you and your partner are up to date on STI screeningsand use condoms until you’re certain your STI is totally cleared up. We promise: Safe, worry-free sex means better sex for everyone.