The Complete Guide to Safe Sex
Odds are you already know almost everything you’re about to read here, just like you know you should exercise more or eat more greens.
There’s a big difference between knowing and doing. But when it comes to safe sex, there can be a big price to pay for a carefree attitude.
So, here’s a reminder of what’s involved in safe sex, including safe oral sex.
How to have safe sex: the basics
Nothing in life is completely safe. If you drive a car, you risk an accident. If you play sports, you risk injury. If you sit still at a desk all day, you risk a bunch of health issues due to a sedentary lifestyle.
So, no, there isn’t really any such thing as completely safe sex. What we’re talking about here is making it safer, just like obeying the speed limit makes driving safer.
At the very least, that involves:
- Conversation: Ask if they’ve ever tested positive for HIV or another STI. Ask when they were last tested. Yes, it feels awkward and can ruin the mood a bit – but it’s definitely better to know.
- Consent: Don’t take their consent for granted and don’t let them assume your consent either. Ask if it’s OK to keep going. Tell them to stop if you don’t consent to things going any further.
- Condoms: Yes, you still need to use condoms. They’re the only way to prevent a number of nasty STIs, which are on the rise as condom use is declining.
How to have safe oral sex
Oral sex can also expose you to STIs while oral-anal play can leave you with bacteria infections like E. coli and shigella, or even intestinal parasites.
The solution? Use a dental dam, a latex sheet that you place over your partner’s anus, penis or vagina using a bit of lube if necessary. A dental dam can help protect you against infections carried by body fluids (though it can’t help with lice or skin-based infections like herpes or HPV).
If you can’t find one in your pharmacy, ask your sexual health clinic or order online.
How to have safe anal sex
Men and women who have anal sex are particularly vulnerable to STIs because the lining of the anus is quite thin.
It’s important to use latex condoms correctly so that they don’t break through friction (a water- or silicone-based lubricant can help).
If you’re in a high-risk group…
Some types of sexual behaviour involve greater risks. You might wish that wasn’t the case but it is.
Men who have sex with men are at higher risk of some health problems including HIV/AIDS and other STIs, anal papilloma, hepatitis, some cancers and mental health struggles like anxiety and depression. Safe gay sex involves condoms, regular health checks and a supportive healthcare team.
Men and women who have multiple sexual partners throughout their lives are exposed to more risk of contracting an STI or developing some types of cancer.
If you’re in one of these high-risk groups then:
- Always, always, always use a condom – don’t invite more risk
- Ensure you get regular testing for STIs so that any infections can be identified and treated as soon as possible
- Consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to protect against HIV transmission.
How can we help?
PrEP Health can help you have safer sex by:
- Conducting an initial health assessment and STI screen
- Prescribing and supplying PrEP to reduce your risk of HIV infection
- Testing you for HIV every 3 months.
Order your prescription today.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.