Safe Sexual Practices
What's Inside ?
STIs are usually passed from one person to another when you are involved in unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, genital skin contact, and contact with bodily fluids. Protect yourself and your partners from Sexually Transmitted Infections by practising safe sex practices.
Here are some of the effective ways to protect yourself and your partner from the risk of contracting an STI
- Outside condoms are a barrier to be used by persons with male genitalia during penetrative sex.
- Inside condoms/Female condoms are a barrier to be used by persons with female genitalia during penetrative sex.
Do not use an outside condom with inside condom simultaneously. Use one or the other. This barrier keeps the semen and genital fluids away from your partners’ genitals.
The most common condoms that are available in the pharmacy are made of latex. However, if either of you or your partner is allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are an alternative.
- Dental dams are square pieces of latex that protects you from contracting STI by placing flat over vaginal opening or anus.
Condoms should be changed between anal sex and vaginal sex to avoid the risk of introducing new bacteria. This is applicable for dental dams too.
- Check the expiration date and look out for obvious defects
- Do not reuse a condom
- Make sure it is on properly
- Use Lubricants – check the section below
Condoms can tear easily when your partner is not lubricated properly. Using a lubricant during the intercourse reduces friction thereby reducing the risk of condom breakage. It also prevents skin tearing during sex which is another avenue for contracting STIs. It is extremely important to use a lubricant during anal sex due to the absence of natural lubricants.
Use sterile water-based lubricants. Some of the lubricants are KY Jelly Personal by Johnson & Johnson, Durex Play intimate lubricants, Kamasutra and Moods
Avoid oil-based lubricants as they increase the risk of breakage. Lotions, Baby oil, Vaseline lead to irritation of genitals and breakage of condoms.
Hygiene sex toys
- Try to avoid sharing sex toys with your partner.
- Clean between every use. They can be cleansed by simple soap and water, please take care of specific manufacturer instructions while cleaning them.
- Using latex condoms on penetrative sex toys will help them keep clean.
- Do not reinsert a penetrative sex toy from vaginal to the anus or vice-versa without cleaning or changing the condom.
- Use sex toys that have been made for that purpose. Avoid using alternatives. Prefer materials that are safe for the body.
Limit number of partners
Higher the number of partners, greater the risk of contracting an STI. With every new partner, comes their history of sexual encounters and STIs.
You can also take some steps to protect yourself before sexual activity begins. Some of them include
- Getting tested for STIs along with your partner
- Discuss your sexual history with your new partner
- Always carry backup contraception to protect you
- Getting tested every time you change a partner
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis B and HPV
Other safe sex practices
There are other sexual practices which exclude penetration and can make you and your partner feel good. Some of them are fingering, fisting, mutual masturbation and dry-humping.
- Care has to be taken while involving in these activities. Ask your partner to wash hands and trim nails before partaking in these activities to avoid cuts and minimize the spread of bacteria. Open cuts are an avenue for spreading STIs.
- Finger condoms reduce the risk of STIs while fingering. It is a condom for the finger that can be made out of a glove. .
- Separate gloves/condoms should be used to touch each other’s genitals.
- Lubrication is recommended to reduce friction.
Can I have safe sex if I have an STI?
If you have contracted an STI that can be cured by medication,it is advised that you do not involve in any sexual activity until the medication is complete. Check with your doctor before you resume any sexual activity.
STIs like HIV, Genital Herpes cannot be cured completely. There are medications to reduce the symptoms and reduce the risk of passing it on to your partner. You can continue to have sex with your partner while following some precautions:
- Use protection always
- Do not involve in sexual activity when you notice any symptoms (like discharge or swelling in genitals)
Please make sure to discuss your condition with your partner and have 100% consent before you continue sexual activity