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Why Practice Safer Sex?

Why practice safe sex? And discover the precautions you need to know for greater sex safety.

Group of teens

Guide to safer sex

Helen Knox has advice on a no-nonsense, practical approach to avoiding sexually-transmitted infections covers the best ways to dodging Chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and other diseases while still having fun.

Why practice safer sex? If spontaneity is your aim, this guide might seem a little off-putting. It's not meant to discourage anyone from enjoying sex, but to help people to have healthier, happier and safer sex lives. Catching an infection is a lot more off-putting than taking care of yourself and your lover, so here are some measures to help you protect yourself from ALL sexually-transmitted infections. Many viral and bacterial sexually-transmitted infections are easier to catch and more common than HIV, which is why this guide is about more than just using a condom for penetrative sex.

Quick facts
  • One million people are infected with STIs around the world every day of the year.
  • Oral sexually-transmitted gonorrhea is on the rise in many countries.

Precautions for greater safety

Penetrative vaginal sex - a condom should be put on before any genital contact, especially if the woman isn't using additional, reliable birth control. There are enough live sperm and germs at the tip of an erect penis to cause pregnancy or infection without penetration or ejaculation.


 


Penetrative anal sex - use a non-spermicidally-lubricated condom with extra water-based or silicone lubricant at all times. It's useful to wear an extra-strong condom, but more important to use sufficient lubrication, without which the condom is more likely to burst. Never move from anal to vaginal sex without changing the condom. If there's no spare condom handy, move from the vagina to the anus.

Foreplay - cover cuts, sores and other skin lesions on fingers with waterproof plasters or latex gloves, particularly during a menstrual period or if anal foreplay is involved. If you don't have latex gloves to hand, it's safer to use a non-spermicidally-lubricated condom over one or two fingers than bare hands. If you're not using protection and you're going to move on to vaginal foreplay, it's vital to wash your hands after anal foreplay.

Sex toys - if you're sharing toys, use the same level of protection as for penetrative sex. Wash toys thoroughly between partners. Keep whips, chains and other articles used during S&M (sadomasochistic) fetish foreplay for personal use, particularly if you draw blood (or body fluids containing blood) during use.

Masturbation - there's no risk of infection if you're alone and using unshared items, unless a disease from one part of the body infects another through poor hygiene technique. An unwashed finger, for example, can spread genital gonorrhea or chlamydia to the eye. During masturbation with a partner, follow the guidelines for foreplay.

Related Information:

next: Is Sex Better When You're In Love?

Last Updated: April 1, 2016

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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