Yes, condoms can protect against an array of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and trichomoniasis, all of which are transmitted through sexual contact. But sheathing your genitals doesn’t necessarily stop all STIs.

Chancroid is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection spread when you touch an open sore, or if infected fluid from someone’s oozing ulcer makes contact with your skin.

The reason condoms may not protect against chancroid is because the infection might occur on areas of the body that condoms can’t cover. In addition, you can also contract HPV, genital warts and genital herpes through skin-to-skin contact. The same goes for syphilis, even though this STI is also spread during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Syphilis may be transmitted when direct contact is made with syphilitic sores, called chancres, that sometimes develop on the lips and in the mouth. What’s more, this STI can also spread from an infected mother to her unborn child.
HPV is found in the mouth or throat, and genital herpes can cause sores or breaks in the skin or lining of the mouth, all areas that can’t be covered with a condom.

What’s the takeaway? Doctors suggest you routinely get screened for STIs if you’re already sexually active or considering becoming so.