Sexual Health

Last Updated: November 16, 2023
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Every Soldier is responsible for - 

Protecting his or her own sexual health,
Protecting others by not transmitting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and
Preventing unintended pregnancy/paternity.

Every year, thousands of service members are diagnosed with at least one STI, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and syphilis, military health data showsExternal Link

Army experts have reported increases of STIs among Active Duty Army who are typically within the younger age group, and have travel and job stress factors that may increase their riskExternal Link; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also reported increasing civilian STI rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilisExternal Link. Read this article on how to protect yourself against the war on sexually transmitted diseasesExternal Link

STIs are on the​ rise in the U.​S. - Don't take chances!

Educate yourself:

  • STIs are infections caused by viruses (e.g., hepatitis B, genital herpes, human papillomavirus or HPV, and human immunodeficiency virus or HIV), bacteria (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis) or parasites (like public lice and trichomoniasis) that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact (including oral, anal and vaginal), and with shared toys. 

  • Untreated STIs can cause infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pain, nervous system disorders, certain types of cancer, organ failure and potentially death. Untreated STIs can also be dangerous during pregnancy to a mother and her baby. 
  • ​Symptoms may occur days, weeks, or even months after exposure and can include: pelvic, vaginal, or penile pain, swelling, burning, discharge or odors, rashes, blisters, or warts, bleeding between periods, and/or painful sex. A person can have an STI without having obvious symptoms. 

What can you do?

  • ​​Mon​it​or and protect yourself: 
    • Get tested as often as your healthcare provider suggests and get treatment when needed 
    • Get the human papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B vaccines
    • Ensure that your at-risk partners get tested and are vaccinated

  • ​Be ​responsible about sex: 
    • Choose to not have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) 
    • Reduce your number of partners 
    • Talk with your partner - Get tested together 
    • Use a condom correctly EVERY time (oral, vaginal, or anal sex) 
    • Avoid risky situations like drug and excessive alcohol use, “hook-ups,” unknown partners, offering or receiving money or drugs for sex 
    • Be smart about other risks - Don’t share needles or razor blades, and ensure tattoo and piercing facilities are safe 

  • ​View this detailed DCPH-A Presentation to learn about the types of STIs that affect military personnel, including HIV, what risk factors to avoid, and how to prevent them. This DCPH-A Brochure​ summarizes key information. 
  • ​​​​The Mi​litary Health System informs service members about the impact of STIs on military readiness and STI Prevention resourcesExternal Link

  • ​Get sexual healthcare answers on the Defense Healthcare Agency's (DHA) Deployment Readiness Education for Servicewomen (DRES) app. ClickExternal Link​ or scan ​this QR code to use the​ app. 
  • ​Learn how to protect yourself and your partner(s) from STIs by visiting the CDC's website on STI prevention​External Link. From using condoms to getting tested, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of infection. Stay informed and stay healthy!​

​NEW & Popular in Sexual Health:​​ 

  • ​​​​ALERT! Syphilis is on the rise in the United StatesExternal Link including a 40% rise among military service members 2020-2022External Link. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause serious effects to your brain, heart, eyes, and other organs. It can also be passed from a pregnant person to their baby, causing birth defects or death. Syphilis is easy to cure in its early stages with penicillin, but the longer you have syphilis the more damage it can do to your body. The best way to prevent syphilis is to use condoms every time you have sex. You should also get tested regularly if you are sexually active, especially if you have multiple partners or a new partner. If you test positive for syphilis, make sure to tell your current and past partners so they can get tested too. For more information on syphilis, visit the CDC​External Link or talk to your primary care medical provider.​ 

  • ​​​Did​ you know? Human papillomavirus (HPV)External Link is a common STI virus that can lead to certain types of cancer later in life among women and men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)External Link reports that HPV can cause cancers of the cervixExternal Link, vagina, and vulva​External Link in women, the penisExternal Link in men, and in the anusExternal Link and in the mouth and throatExternal Link, in both men and women. The cancer can occur years, even decades after exposure to HPV. The HPV vaccination can prevent over 90% of cancers caused by HPV. Ideally, children will get fully vaccinated when younger, such as 11-12 years of age. Per CDC guidelinesExternal Link, if not fully vaccinated as a child, everyone male or female up to 26 years of age should get the HPV vaccine. Individuals between 27 and 45 years may benefit from the vaccine – but should discuss with their healthcare provider first. 

  • ​Did you know? Every day a service member is diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Do your part to help end HIV in the military community. Lower your risk by using condoms, get tested for STIs, and talk to your provider about whether you would benefit from the daily HIV pre-exposure prohylaxis pill (“PrEP”)External Link​. 


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