Sexually active couples need to be concerned with the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and how their choice of contraception influences that risk. Condoms provide the best documented protection against such pathogens as: gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus (HSV), hepatitis B, HIV, and chlamydia. Female dependent barrier methods also provide protection against most STDs and also possibly HIV. Most hormonal non-barrier contraceptives, although providing excellent protection against unwanted pregnancies, provide little protection against STDs. Oral contraceptive pills (OCP) may increase the risk of infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical infections of chlamydia. Individuals at high risk for both an unwanted pregnancy and an STD should be counseled to use both a hormonal and barrier contraceptive. Recently, nonoxynol-9 (N-9) and OCP use have been associated with an increase in HIV infection in African women at high risk for HIV. This association has not been found in other studies and currently does not outweigh the proven benefits of these contraceptive methods.
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