Common Sense Safe Sex Tips
Mar 10, 2022
Sex is like pizza; even when it’s bad, it’s good. So goes the old saying. But the reality is that a careless pizza one night won’t result in pregnancy, herpes or HIV. Careless sex can.
So let’s have a look at a few common sense safe sex tips. Most people will (hopefully) already be familiar with these. But a little refresher can’t hurt.
What is safe sex?
Safe sex can mean a range of things. It can mean sex that prevents pregnancy or sex that prevents sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, mycoplasma genitalium, HIV or hepatitis B. Ideally, it means both.
However, in reality, safe sex should really be called ‘safer sex’, since there is no form of protection that is entirely foolproof when it comes to protecting from pregnancy and infection.
Safe sex refers to any sexual contact (from kissing to penetrative sex) where care and precautions are taken to protect yourself and your partner from STIs and unplanned pregnancy. Safe sex is designed to prevent the exchange of semen, vaginal fluids, blood, saliva or other bodily fluids or substances.
Safe sex isn’t just about the devices you use to prevent pregnancy or infection, it’s also about the attitudes and behavior you bring to sex.
Everyone knows how important condoms are to safe sex. They offer the best available protection against pregnancy and STIs by acting as a physical barrier to prevent the exchange of semen, vaginal fluids or blood between partners.
However, it’s important to remember that condoms aren’t foolproof. If they are improperly stored, opened or put on they may lose their effectiveness. Additionally, they can come off or tear during sex, rendering them useless.
It’s vital that you learn how to use condoms comfortably and confidently. Be aware of their use-by dates and store them safely to prevent damage. Be careful opening the package and putting them on to prevent tears or holes. Being comfortable and confident with condoms will also reduce the chance of awkwardness or embarrassment from fumbling or struggling to put them on. This is important because a lot of people don’t like using condoms because of the discomfort involved with putting them on.
You should also only use the appropriate water-based lubricants as others can damage the condoms.
Whether you’re having sex for the first time, sleeping with a partner, or paying for sex in a brothel, condoms are vital.
Being prepared for sex is one of the best ways to practice safe sex. If you’re unprepared, you’re much more likely to just go ahead and take the risk. You may also have to have the passion-killing interruption of digging around for condoms. Carrying condoms in your wallet or purse means that they are ready when you are.
Be aware of other conditions
Sex with a condom may not prevent all STIs. For example, some infections such as pubic lice, scabies, genital warts and herpes are spread by close skin-to-skin contact. If the condom isn’t covering the infected areas, passing an infection is still possible.
Get regular testing
Regular STI testing is vital to ensure you’re healthy and free from infection, especially if you have multiple partners. Your GP can provide quick and simple testing with your regular health checkups.
It’s good practice to avoid sexual activity with a new partner until you’ve been tested. Think of STI testing as a sign of respect for each other.
Having just one sexual partner
If you’ve both been tested and are free from STIs, then having sex with only one partner is the safest way to have sex. However, it’s important to remember that STIs can be passed on in other ways besides sex, like sharing needles for example.
Use other forms of contraception
If unwanted pregnancy is a concern, remember that condoms are never 100% effective. You can further reduce the risk of pregnancy by combining condom use with other forms of contraception like hormonal contraceptives such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) or the oral contraceptive pill. However, it’s important to remember that these only provide protection against unplanned pregnancy. They provide no protection against STIs.
Beware of factors that can increase the risk of unsafe sex
While you may have the best intentions, there are a number of factors that can increase the likelihood of having unprotected sex. This include:
- Being drunk
- Using recreational drugs
- Feeling pressured to have sex
- Being unprepared
- Having an “it’s okay just this once” attitude
- Judging people based on how they look (anyone can have an STI)
Know what to do in case of infection
If you have had unprotected sex or something has gone wrong during protected sex, there are a few important steps you can take. It’s vital that you act as quickly as possible to prevent more significant consequences down the road.
In the case of pregnancy concerns, consider taking the emergency contraceptive pill (morning after pill). Taking it within 72 hours is best, but it can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. If you’re worried about STIs, you should contact your GP ASAP to organize immediate STI testing.