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Division of HIV and STD Programs
600 S. Commonwealth Ave., 10th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Phone:(213) 351-8000
Fax: (213) 738-0825
Office Hrs: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. M-F
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Information for Heterosexual Women

Sexually active women are more susceptible to STDs and their complications as compared to men. This is due to the location and makeup of a woman’s reproductive tract. The vagina’s warm, moist environment is an ideal place for viruses and bacteria to grow. The vagina is also lined with a thin mucous membrane compared to the tough skin that covers the penis, which provides a better barrier against STDs. Finally, because the vagina is located inside the body, a woman is less likely to notice symptoms if she is infected. For these reasons, it is very important for all women to get the facts about STDs. Here are a few key tips to help you stay healthy and reduce your chances of getting infected:


  • Use a male or female lubricated condom each time you have vaginal or anal sex. Don’t use condoms with nonoxynol-9 spermicide because they may irritate your vagina and make it easier to become infected with STDs. For oral sex on a man, use either a flavored or unlubricated male condom. If you want to perform oral-anal sex on your partner (also called “rimming”) or he wants to do it to you, use a latex barrier (also called a dental dam). Alternatives to dental dams include plastic wrap (e.g., Saran wrap) or a square made from a non-lubricated condom (cut off the tip of condom and then cut the condom lengthwise). Any of these can be placed against the vagina or anus during mouth-to-vagina or mouth-to-anus sex.

  • Use only water-based lubricants. Any lubricant made with oil (e.g., baby oil, lotion, cream, Vaseline, etc.) can cause condom breakage.

  • Get tested for STDs regularly. It is possible to have an STD and not have any symptoms. Testing is the only reliable way to find out if you are infected.

  • Get a Pap test regularly to check for cervical cancer.

  • Don’t douche! Douching can make you more susceptible to STDs. It can also spread an STD infection like chlamydia further into your uterus and fallopian tubes, causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID. PID can make you infertile (not able to have children).

  • Don’t self-diagnose when you have vaginal symptoms. Many women go to their local drugstore at the first signs of vaginal itching or unusual discharge. While anti-fungal creams like Monistat cure yeast infections, they do not cure other infections like STDs. Be sure to go to a doctor or clinic to get checked.

Pregnancy and STDs

 Domestic Violence

  • Domestic Violence Victim's Handbook PDF Icon- Includes information, tips, and resources if you are looking to escape violence in your home.
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