You probably heard this one way back in health class: The best way to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is to just ... not have sex. And that's the truth; avoiding sexual contact is the only 100% foolproof way to avoid infection. But if you enjoy sex - as many of us do! - that's a bitter pill to swallow. Most people need the physical pleasure and comfort sex provides. And sex - with anyone - involves some degree of risk, whether of an STI, or just of putting yourself out there and getting intimate.

There is, however, one other option for getting off risk free: sex toys.

OK, just to be perfectly clear, sex toys aren't a replacement for a flesh-and-blood partner. They can't cuddle or make coffee; there's no pillow talk. But damn do they get the job done. Here are a few instances where it might pay to cuddle up to your vibrator instead of your partner.

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You or Your Partner Is Being Treated for an STI

STIs happen. In fact, they happen to a lot of people. Statistics suggest that up to 50% of people will contract an STI before the age of 25. Fortunately, many STIs are treatable. That said, if you know you or your partner is a carrier, steering clear of sex might be a good option for a while. For example, chlamydia is a common STI that can be cured with a dose of antibiotics. However, it is still contagious within the first seven days of beginning antibiotic treatment. If you or your partner are diagnosed with chlamydia, it is best to avoid sexual contact until your doctor says it's OK.

In the meantime ... you can use sex toys! You can either get off on your own, in front of your partner, or use a toy together. For example, you could use a couples' vibrator like the LELO TIANI 3 to tease your partner without even touching them! Be sure to wash you toys thoroughly after using them, and to cover them with a fresh condom between uses if sharing them with your partner. (Get more hot ideas in 7 Things to Know About Couples' Vibrators.)

You or Your Partner Is Suffering an Outbreak

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about one in six adults has genital herpes. Herpes can be managed with medication, but it is not curable, and what's tricky about this STI is that it is most easily transmitted by herpes sores during an outbreak. These sores aren't always in a place that can be covered by a condom either, which often makes avoiding sex during an outbreak a better option. If you and your partner feel like playing, this is another great time to break out the toy box. Note, however, that STIs can be transmitted via the fluids you or your partner might leave behind on a sex toy. Be careful not to share sex toys, to cover them with condoms, or to wash and dry them fully and thoroughly between uses. You should also be sure to use toys made of body-safe, non-porous materials. (Read: Sex Toy Safety: A Guide to Materials.)

Try pulling a condom over a LELO Smart Wand to please your partner. Or, if your partner has a prostate, blow his mind with a prostate stimulator like the LELO HUGO. (For hot tips, check out Letting Sex Toys Come Between You: Using Sex Toys With Your Partner.)

Sex Toys: A Fun Safe Sex Option
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You're In a New Relationship and and You and Your Partner Haven't Been Tested Yet

If you aren't in a long-term, monogamous relationship, it's a good idea to get tested for STIs regularly. That way, you'll have all the information you need to protect yourself and your partners. If you're in a new relationship and you aren't yet aware of your partner's status, well, you know where this is going: sex toys! You can abstain from sex with your new partner and keep yourself happy, or enjoy your toys with a partner to have a sexy time without actually bumping bodies. Everyone wins!

You're Single

Being single can suck sometimes, but it's nice to know that you can enjoy all the orgasms you could ever want in the meantime. Sex toys provide a great way to fantasize, explore your body, boost your health and keep your libido humming. Plus, it's pretty empowering to not have to rely on a partner for pleasure. The next time the right partner comes along, you'll be ready to roll!