Having sex – and heck, even talking about! – can be oodles of fun, but it’s important to remember sex is not all fun and games. There are risks when having any kind of sex, and it’s critical that we are all armed with the knowledge to make our sex safer.
While the only way to have 100-per-cent-safe sex is to not do it at all, there are many ways to have safer sex and prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Of course, the first safer sex practice most of us hear about is external condoms – a sheath of latex or similar material that is rolled over the penis or toy before oral or penetrative sex. There are also internal condoms that are inserted into the vagina or anus before penetrative sex. These are classic options for a reason – they are relatively inexpensive (many clinics give out external condoms for free), easy to use and prevent the transmission of STIs at 98 per cent efficacy when used properly.
However, condoms are not the only method of safer sex people should be using! In terms of oral sex, barrier methods like dental dams are effective at preventing illness spread. In a pinch, you can even cut a condom to use like a dental dam for vaginal or anal-oral sex.
If you are using toys like vibrators, dildos or butt plugs with a partner, make sure they are thoroughly washed and sanitized between uses! STIs can be transferred through the use of toys. If it is a penetrative toy, condoms should also be used to increase safety.
Testing is a key component to safer sex. STI tests can be done through your family doctor, clinics like Planned Parenthood and even through your school clinic. Testing should be done before beginning sex with a new partner – both partners should be tested – and if you are experiencing any symptoms of STIs, as some can lay dormant or show few symptoms for a long period of time.
Perhaps one of the most discussed STIs is HIV, an infection that can lead to AIDS – and, in some cases, death. Not only an STI, HIV can be spread through shared needles, razors or other methods in which bodily fluids like blood, semen or vaginal fluids are exchanged.
With modern treatments, HIV is not always the death sentence it used to be – but for those engaging in sex, being tested regularly and taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is the best way to prevent transmission. While the rhetoric of the early AIDS crisis is that only gay men are at risk of contracting HIV through sex, this is not true – anyone can contract HIV and should be aware of the risks.
The bottom line to safer sex? Get tested, be honest, and use protection each time. Only you can appropriately assess the risks in your sex life – take the time to learn more about what you can do to keep yourself and your partners safe.
Once you’re ready to have safer sex – hop onto The PRSNLS and find someone as ready as you are!