From your friendly neighborhood nurse at Isbel, Ariel Lewis
Safe sex you say! This term gets thrown around all the time, but what does it actually mean?
“Safe” is a twofold process, folks. It means you are protected against an unwanted pregnancy AND STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Safe= less worry, less stress, less guilt, less headaches now annnnd later. Who doesn’t want that? Yes, please.
Keep in mind that decisions about safety are best made pre-sexy time…otherwise it’s kind of like trying to buckle your seatbelt while going upside down on a rollercoaster. Protect that body and spirit of yours. You. Are. Worth. It.
First things first: If you don’t want the possibility of getting pregnant, you need to use contraception. The. End. Again, it’s best to have this squared away well in advance of being hot and bothered with someone. Take the time to research which contraception is best for you and your needs. Talk with your healthcare provider. There are so many wonderful options out there these days! Do not let “Long live the sheepskin condom” be your motto!
Thought you were done with the vocabulary lesson? Hang tight! We are going back to the basics. “Sex”=“Sexual contact”= any skin-to-skin physical contact and/or sharing of body fluid between your mouth, vagina or anus and your male or female partner’s genitals or anus. There is a range of safety when it comes to sexual contact, because different types of sexual contact changes your risk of getting certain STIs.
Hold up. When was the last time you got tested for STIs? Have you EVER been tested? Even if you’ve been on the ball and asking your partner(s) about their STI status before engaging in sexual contact with them (kudos!), it’s important for you to get tested regularly… unfortunately, not everyone out there is as honest as you are. And let’s not forget, many people have STIs without knowing it. Sorry, friends. Side note: If you are having sexual contact with multiple partners these days, please allow them the opportunity to also make awesome sexual health decisions by keeping them in the know!
Alright. So. The safest kind of sexual contact is… wait for it…. when there isn’t any! Ladies, there are so many ways to be turned on, and turn someone else on, without even touching one another. These include masturbation, mutual masturbation, and phone sex. No swapping body fluids! Let your imagination run wild.
Moving on, we have the lower-risk sexual activities including using sex toys (wash those suckers!) with a condom, and oral sex with protection (condom or Sheer Glyde dam). Please note that body-to-body rubbing without protection (think genitals on genitals) can still pass CMV, herpes, HPV, pubic lice, and scabies.
The sexual contact that carries the highest risk for an STI is oral sex without a condom (watch out for CMV, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, herpes, syphilis, and HPV), and vaginal or anal sex without a condom. Vaginal or anal sex without a condom runs you the risk of every single STI out there. Worth it? No. Enough said.
Whew. We got heavy there for a second. But there is good news! You are now going to go have wonderful, empowering, safe sex! You can blow this popsicle stand.
Additional tip: Check out Bedsider for a fun map to all the possible protection methods you and your partners could use!