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Sex is great: it is fun, totally natural and great exercise. As with many fun things however, it is not without risks – of pregnancy, disease, physical and emotional harm. Here are some top tips for staying safe.
- Choose your sexual partners with care. When you choose a sexual partner, you are choosing someone with whom you are going to exchange bodily fluids, and someone who is going to see you at your most vulnerable state. You need to know that that person is clean, healthy and trustworthy before you put yourself in their hands. Ideally, you should get to know your partners and their friends and family. It pays to know their history and habits.
- Use appropriate contraception. Hormonal contraception methods (like the pill) provides good protection from pregnancy if used correctly, while a barrier method such as a condom will protect both partners from diseases. Using a condom is vital unless both partners are totally faithful and have been tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Learn how to put on a condom properly. It takes practice, but can be a fun part of foreplay. Pinch the tip of the condom (the space this creates will fill with semen later if all goes to plan!). Gently roll the condom down the shaft of the erect penis all the way to the base. After ejaculation, hold the condom firmly at the base of the penis as you withdraw – remember that the loss of the erection will make the condom liable to “slip off”.
- Take care when experimenting with anal sex. Anal sex is a riskier type of sex than vaginal, although many couples—both gay and straight—derive pleasure from it. The risk of infection is greater because the skin of the anus is thinner and more prone to damage, eventually leading to infection and the transmission of disease. Go gently and use lots of water-based lubricant. Stop if there is any discomfort. Never allow anything to be placed in the vagina after it has been in the anus – this risks transferring bacteria, which have no business being in the vagina.
- Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy is possible from anal sex. Semen can drip out of the anus into the vagina, as they are relatively close together. This is unlikely to happen, but it is still important to bear this in mind.
- Lesbian couples should use a dental dam for oral sex and latex gloves for fingering. Make sure to use 1 glove per orifice. You should not be switching between the vagina and the anus or any other orifice without switching to a clean glove or dam first. Also using condoms over a dildo can make using toys a lot safer.
- Keep toys clean. Sex toys are lots of fun, but they must be kept clean and hygienic. Most stores sell wipes which are great for traveling, although they are expensive. A weak solution of disinfectant in a bowl of water is a cheaper option. Rinse the toys well and be sure to dry them before storing them in a sealed bag.
- Drunk as a skunk in a bar is not where one makes his or her best decisions, so choose your sexual partners when you are sober. If you feel it’s appropriate, you could make a pact with a friend never to let each other go home with someone you have just met.
- In the UK, condoms are available free of charge from family planning clinics and all forms of contraception are free on the NHS.
- It is a good idea to put on a condom as soon as possible. While traces of sperm in Cowper’s Fluid (i.e. “precum”) are believed to be unlikely to cause pregnancy, this is essential to prevent the spread or contraction of STDs.
- Carry condoms with you just in case, but try to avoid keeping them close to your body (e.g. in your wallet) – heat will accelerate the breakdown of latex.
- Do not use petroleum/oil-based products as these will weaken the condom; there are lots of good water based lubricants on the market.
- There is no sex without some form of risk. No form of contraception is 100% reliable, except for complete abstinence.
- There are unscrupulous people who will know just the right thing to say to get you to throw caution to the wind. Don’t!
- Sexually transmitted diseases do not discriminate on grounds of marital status, age, sexual orientation, class or skin colour. Use a condom.
Sources and Citations
- ↑ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12286905?dopt=Abstract” rel=”nofollow”>PubMed.gov – “Researchers find no sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid”. 1993 Oct;14(10):154-6.
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