“Safe sex” is a pretty big topic.
It is defined as “sexual activity in which people take precautions to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases, infections, pregnancy, and unwanted bodily harm”.
We’ve all heard that you’re supposed to wear a condom during sex. If two people of the opposite sex are engaging in intercourse, wearing a condom will help to prevent pregnancy (IF USED PROPERLY). Wearing condoms also helped to prevent against sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
BUT, did you know that some condoms are less effective in preventing STD’s/STI’s depending on the material they’re made with?
Studies show that with typical use, latex condoms are more likely to work effectively than polyurethane condoms. Typical use means that sometimes the condoms are used the “right way” and sometimes they aren’t.
What does this mean? This means you need to learn how to properly use a condom if you have a penis and you’re engaging in sex! Even if you have a vagina you should know how to put on a condom so you can tell if your partner is doing it right. (You know, avoid those nasty diseases!)
You should use protection every time you have sex. Sometimes people are dishonest about their sexual histories, and it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Other than condoms, you can also use hormonal birth control such as the pill, or a Depo Provera shot to prevent pregnancy. There are also IUD’s (intrauterine device) and hormonal implants that can help to prevent pregnancy.
“BUT Autumn, I don’t have a penis.“
There are other measures of protection you can use if you don’t have a penis. You can use finger condoms, dental dams, and PrEP.
Use finger condoms, especially if you have any cuts on your fingers, if you’re worried about contracting disease and infection.
Dental dams are used for oral sex. A dental dam is a small square of latex or polyurethane that you place over your partner’s vagina or anus before… um… going to town? This is used to, you guessed it, prevent the spread of STD’s and STI’s! Just like with a condom, you should never reuse a dental dam. Always get a new one.
If you haven’t heard of PrEP, it’s a newer prophylactic drug used to lower your risk of contracting HIV. If used within 72 hours of exposure to HIV, it will reduce your risk of contracting the disease by up to 90%.
Not all doctors can prescribe this medication to you, but a new app called Nurx can also help you to have PrEP delivered to your door. You can also visit www.preplocator.org to find other prescribing clinics and doctors near you.
Below is an image showing which sexual acts are more and less likely to transmit infection.
For people with vaginas, foreplay is pretty much ALWAYS necessary for comfortable sex. Vaginas create their own natural lubricant which is necessary to prevent friction during intercourse.
A government-sponsored study from 2014 found that people with vaginas need around twenty minutes of foreplay prior to intercourse for optimal lubrication. In other words, don’t just stick something up your partner’s vagina immediately. It’s not pleasant!
Lubricant is helpful during vaginal intercourse and necessary during anal intercourse. Saliva or lubricant can be used to prevent tearing, friction, and discomfort.
There are three kinds of lubricants: Water, silicone, and oil based. Water and silicone based are safe with silicone sex toys and both latex and silicone condoms. Oil based is not recommended for vaginal use, especially for those using diaphragms or cervical caps as contraceptives. Silicone and oil based lubricants last longer than water based.
“Sizing up” can be helpful with anal intercourse, which involves inserting fingers or toys to gradually build up in size.
During vaginal intercourse, deep penetration can cause cervical sensitivity which can be extremely painful, though is not usually harmful. Switching positions or increasing foreplay can be helpful. The vagina is usually about 4” deep, but upon physical arousal stretches upward to be between 7-8” deep.
So there you have it, safe sex! Your health is important. Use these measures to protect yourself.