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Everything you need to know about avoiding STIs and unplanned pregnancies. It's all about Safe Sex.

We should all protect ourselves. Whether we expect to have sex, or not

What is it?

Sex with fewer risks. Practise safe sex and you're far less likely to pick up an STI, including HIV. It means using condoms - always.

It also means being choosy about your partners. More partners = bigger risk.

It doesn't mean not having fun. It doesn't mean not being passionate or spontaneous. There is nothing romantic or reckless about STIs.

Should the boy always provide condoms?

No. This is the 21st Century.

We should all protect ourselves. Whether we expect to have sex, or not. Like carrying a tampon. Just in case.

If a boy won't wear a condom, then don't have sex with him. If he cared about you he'd wear one - so he's certainly not worth the risk.

If a girl wants you to have sex without a condom, say no. It's not willpower. It's common sense.

If I'm on the Pill, do I still need to use condoms?

Yes. The Pill won't protect you from STIs. Condoms are needed, too - every time.

What if you haven't started your periods or you have sex just before/after your period?

There's no time during your menstrual cycle where you can be sure you won't get pregnant. Even if you've never had a period you can still get pregnant because your body could already be producing eggs.

Other myths are that you won't get pregnant if it's your first time, you do it standing up or in water, or you wash your vagina out afterwards. Wrong!

So are you 100% safe if you only foreplay or use a condom?

Sticking to foreplay is safer, but you can catch some STIs just by rubbing against each other, and if sperm gets anywhere near your vagina you could still get pregnant - even if you're a virgin.

Have a look at our page on contraception for more information on your options.

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.