Many people are under the impression that safe sex is either something for homosexuals only or something that takes all the fun out of sex.

Neither statement is actually true. Safe sex practices combine the greatest possible pleasure with the least risk of picking up some sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV.

Not only that, practicing safe sex can stop unwanted pregnancies at the same time. Rather than thinking of it as “not fun”, sexually active people need to start thinking of safe sex as the seatbelt on their sex life.

It’s really important to talk about these issues and set some expectations with partners and discuss possible problems with your health care provider.

“If there’s a health issue in sexual life and it’s affecting a relationship, it can be scary, but it’s important to talk about it and figure out what’s working for you and your partner.”

What Exactly IS Safe Sex?

In a nutshell, safe sex is not allowing semen or vaginal secretions to get inside the mouth, the vagina, the penis or the anus. It also means no skin to skin contact with the genitals. This includes doing things such as: having oral sex using a condom, plastic wrap, or dental dam or having vaginal sex using a condom (male or female condoms) or having anal sex using a condom.

Safe Sex Guidelines

Here is some general guidelines that will make sure you have safe sex:

  1. Never have sex without using a condom. The condom must be used every time.
  2. Never be upset or angry because of using a condom; do not take sex off-line.
  3. Never and under any circumstances use an unsterile lubricant (oil, jelly, lotion, etc.).

Condoms are the best prevention against HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. A condom protects you against the transmission of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and other STIs that can lead to health problems. Condom use with any of these infections can reduce the risk of the disease by more than 87%. Condom may also prevent pregnancy.

Avoiding Pregnancy

If you follow the safe sex guidelines above each and every time you have sex, it’s easy to see how these practices also act as a means of birth control. Latex condoms work best in this area. Keep in mind that while lambskin condoms feel more natural and will prevent pregnancy, they won’t protect you from STD’s or HIV.

Condoms reduce the amount of sperm ejaculated into the vagina by up to 99%, making it difficult or even impossible for a woman to become pregnant

If you find that the condom has broken and you think you might be pregnant, you can purchase the morning after pill, sometimes called Plan B, to ensure that you don’t remain pregnant.

There are some alternatives to the method of birth control that are used by many people in order to keep their contraceptives away. Most often, these are birth control pills.

Birth Control Pills

Most birth control pills contain an estrogen and progestin combination. They work to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, and they may do this by suppressing the growth of cervical mucus. This keeps sperm from reaching the egg.

How do I take birth control pills?

Taking birth control pills is the same whether you have ovulation problems or not, but you should take the pill when your period is due. Many birth control pills are available with a prescription or with a medicine kit, and you may need a prescription or medicine kit depending on your age and health conditions.

Some birth control pills contain synthetic estrogen, which you cannot use until your next menstrual period.

Other Tips for Safe Sex

  • If you are allergic to latex (or if your partner is) you can use polyurethane condoms and an oil based lubricant.
  • Always use a new condom for every sexual encounter.
  • Only use water based lubricants with latex condoms! Using oil based lubricants, such as Vaseline, cause the condom to weaken and break quickly.
  • Never use a condom that looks sticky, old, brittle, or discolored. If you are unsure about the condom, don’t use it!
  • Be sure that during oral sex, the entire genital area is covered with a dental dam or large piece of plastic wrap. A new condom cut lengthwise also works but sometimes tastes strange.
  • If you have any cuts on your hands or mouth, be especially careful as these can be entryways for disease. Wear gloves if you are concerned about the cuts on your hands.

While it can be very awkward talking to new partners about safe sex, it is always better to feel uncomfortable for a short time than to become pregnant or to have to explain to your doctor that you think you have an STD. Be the one to bring up the subject first. Your partner will likely feel relieved that you are comfortable talking about it and will be happy to talk about it.

If you have any questions about safe sex or contraceptive measures, speak to your doctor.

In general, these safe sex practices are effective and they also decrease the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and may help prevent pregnancy. It is important for the success of these safe sex practices that the people in your relationships are both careful. However, it is best to do this out of love, not out of fear.

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