Sex is a natural part of life, but it also comes with some risks — especially, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies. A responsible sexuality involves following certain steps to make sure that you and your partner are physically and emotionally safe during sex, which makes intimacy much more enjoyable.
Keep reading to discover 5 tips on how to have sex safely.
5 tips on how to have sex safely
Tip #1. Communicate before, during, and after sex
Communication is one of the most important aspects of any close relationship, and it should start long before you and your partner even touch. Open and honest communication will allow you to establish your desires, likes and dislikes, and boundaries. Miscommunication can lead to uncomfortable moments and unmet expectations, which can turn sex into a bad experience.
It’s important to feel comfortable before, during, and after sex, and to make sure that you and your partner communicate constantly throughout each encounter. As Concordia University reminds us, we need to talk to our partner about using barrier contraception, whether or not our relationship is monogamous, our sex partner history, and the type of sexual activities that we want to try.
Tip #2. Get tested for STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect a lot more people than you may imagine. There are more than 30 pathogens that can be transmitted during sex, but the most common STDs include:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Hepatitis B
The exact number of people living with STDs around the world is unknown, since many people don’t receive a diagnosis. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 1 million new cases of STDs occur everyday, and that there were approximately 374 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis around the world in 2020. That means that anyone who is sexually active has a risk of catching an STD.
Getting tested for STDs allows you to monitor your sexual health. Your partner(s) should also get tested for STDs regularly, even if you’re planning on using condoms. Thanks to at-home STD tests, you can order your test online, collect your samples from the privacy of your own home, and receive your results privately.
Tip #3. Look for warning signs
- Abnormal vaginal or penile discharge
- Strong vaginal odor
- Skin rash
- Blisters or bumps on or around the genitals
- Genital ulcers
Remember that just because someone doesn’t show any symptoms, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have an STD. Many STDs are completely asymptomatic; conversely, someone could still be in the incubation period of an STD and not show any symptoms. That’s why it’s always so important to get tested and use condoms, even if there are no noticeable signs of an STD.
Tip #4. Use condoms properly
Male and female condoms are the only contraceptive method that can also protect you from STDs. You should use condoms during every sexual encounter, and remember certain tips that can help you increase their effectiveness. Male condoms are usually easier to find than female condoms, and more people are used to wearing them — however both types of condoms are very effective if used correctly.
- Never wear two condoms at the same time, because the friction can cause them to break
- Open the condom package carefully to avoid tearing and check the expiration date
- Roll the condom down the penis making sure that it’s the right way around
- Interrupt sexual activity if the condom slips off
- Carefully remove the condom after you’re done and put it in the trash
- Avoid using oil-based lubricants with latex condoms, since they can damage the latex
- Cover your sex toys with a condom to make clean up easier and protect yourself from STDs, since they can also be transmitted after sharing contaminated sex toys
Tip #5. Learn about your options for contraception
In addition to protecting yourself from STDs, you can add another method to increase your protection against unplanned pregnancies. If you use condoms correctly every time you have sex, they’re approximately 98 percent effective against pregnancy. However, you can always improve your protection by adding another contraceptive method.
According to the CDC, some of the contraceptive methods that you can consider include:
- Combined oral contraceptives
- Progestin-only oral contraceptives
- Copper intrauterine device (IUD)
- Hormonal IUD
- Contraceptive implant
- Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring
- Contraceptive injections
- Hormonal patch
- Diaphragm or cervical cap
- Fertility awareness-based methods
- Emergency contraceptives
- Male or female surgical sterilization
There are different factors that you need to consider before choosing a contraceptive, which is why it’s so important to discuss your options with a healthcare provider. The right contraception method will help you feel secure while having sex, which can lead to a better experience. You can learn more about STD testing and other sexual health topics at STDWatch.com.
16 safer sex practices - concordia.ca
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - who.int
Sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms - mayoclinic.org
How do I use a condom? - nhs.uk
Contraception - cdc.gov