Safer Sex Tips
- BYOC (Bring your own condom).
- Determine your limits and boundaries around safer sex in advance.
- Avoid getting so drunk or high that your judgment fails you.
- Make safer sex a part of sex, not an interruption.
- Choose sex partner(s) who are partners in safer sex too.
- Be comfortable and able to talk about sex and sexual health with partner(s).
- If you find these conversations difficult, don’t feel bad; practice with a friend and remember these conversations are to help keep you and your partner safe and healthy.
Condom Use Tips
Use a condom every time!
Even in a closed or open relationship it is important to have a dialog about condom use to keep each member of the relationship safe, healthy, and free from STIs. A traditional condom can be used to cover the penis, or an inner condom can be inserted into the vagina or anus. Store your condoms in a cool, dry place and make sure they are properly lubricated with water or silicone-based lubricant. Silicone-based lubricant is safe for any condom and while often more expensive than water-based, less lubricant is needed because it does not dry up as quickly. Oil-based lubricant should NOT be used with latex condoms and is not recommended for use inside the body.
- Don’t unroll the condom first. Condoms are packaged neatly rolled up for a reason – they are easier to apply safely and intact.
- We can’t overemphasize the importance of wearing the right size condom. If a condom is too large, it will feel uncomfortable for both partners and possibly slip off during intercourse. When a condom is too small, it may rip or tear. Both scenarios will not only ruin the moment, they will leave you unprotected.
- When opening the condom package, take care not to damage the condom itself. Avoid using sharp objects (including teeth!) or snagging the condom on jewelry or long fingernails.
- As you apply the condom, leave a bit of extra room at the tip. There should be enough space at the tip to provide comfort and accommodate semen.
- When rolling on a condom, gently squeeze out excess air to prevent a bubble at the tip, and then slowly unroll the condom down to the base of the penis.
- Applying extra lubrication has multiple benefits, including increasing sensitivity and pleasure for all partners and preventing the condom from tearing from friction. While some condoms are lubricated, the amount of lube applied is minimal and may not last through an entire session. To increase sensation for the insertive partner, add a drop or two of water or silicone-based lubricant to the inside of the condom before putting it on. Then apply a lubricant to the outside of the condom for extra glide.
- Never use oil based lubricants with condoms! Oil based lubricants can break down the materials from which condoms are made (especially latex!). Be sure to always use water or silicone-based lubricant instead.
- Never reuse a condom, ever.
- Condoms should be stored in a dry, cool environment and out of direct sunlight or other sources of heat which can degrade the condom. Do not keep condoms in a wallet unless you plan to use them immediately (ie. that day/night). The best places to store condoms include a nightstand or dresser drawer, medicine cabinet, or a secure container in your purse or bag.
- Inner condoms or sometimes referred to as female condoms are a great alternative to traditional condoms and allows the receptive partner to have more control over whether or not a condom is used.
- These condoms can be used for vaginal or anal sex.
How to insert for vaginal or anal sex
- To insert for vaginal sex use, squeeze the “insertion” (inner ring) in the middle, making an 8 shape, then insert pinched portion just into the vagina, next insert finger(s) inside the condom to place further in the body and secure. When inserted properly, about one inch of the outer ring will hang outside the body, then intercourse can begin. then
- For anal sex be sure to REMOVE the inner “insertion” ring to avoid potential complications with becoming lodged in the intestines. Insertion for anal sex can easily be done by placing the condom on the partner’s penis or sex toy and then being slowly inserted by penetration.
- Or with your finger inside the condom, push the condom up into the anal cavity. This can be difficult to do using only your fingers, so you may have to try several times. Be sure the condom is not twisted. When inserted properly, about one inch of the outer ring will hang outside the body, then intercourse can begin.
How to remove after vaginal or anal sex
- For easy removal squeeze and twist the outer ring and gently pull the condom out.
- Wrap the condom in the package or tissue, and throw away.
- Do NOT put in the toilet.
Where can I get FREE traditional condoms?
Healthy Sex Tips
Know your sexual risks
It is important to remember that different sexual activities carry different risks. Some diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia are mainly spread through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex, while others, such as herpes and HPV are spread through skin-to-skin contact. Sexual fluids (vaginal fluid and semen) transmit many STIs from person to person and generally require penetrative sexual activities (oral, vaginal or anal sex) for transmission to occur. Skin-to-skin transmission of some STIs does not require penetrative sex and can be spread through other sexual activity such as mutual masturbation or body contact.
Know your body
Regularly inspecting your sex organs, vagina, penis and anus, so that you will notice any changes promptly. If possible, get to know your partner’s body similarly, so you can alert them to any changes
Sexual health conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable, especially with someone you don’t know very well. But, having them is the responsible choice. Your partner(s) deserve your honesty—and you deserve it from them
Be screened regularly
You shouldn’t wait until you are experiencing symptoms of an STI to get tested, a full screen may include tests for HIV, hepatitis B & C, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Many people think these tests are being conducted at a yearly physical or whenever blood is drawn; this is not the case, to get such testing you need to specifically request this from you medical provider or visit an STI clinic. Make testing a part of your regular health maintenance routine. A sexually active person, even one in a relationship, should be screened every year (or more frequently if you have higher risk factors such as multiple sex partners, unprotected sex, or have had sexual contact with someone known to be HIV positive or have an STI), and screened again if symptoms of an STI are present. You and your partner can make a date out of it. Bring snacks, hold hands, it’s probably cheaper than a movie.
The connection between HIV and other STIs:
Acquiring another STI increases your risk of acquiring HIV, for two main reasons:
- Many STIs compromise your skin and can create open sores or lesions. The skin is the body’s main defense mechanism against infection and having in-tact healthy skin creates a barrier that prevents transmission of HIV.
- Most STIs provoke an immune response in the form of an influx of CD4/T-cells to the genitals. These are the cells that HIV needs to connect with in the human body to reproduce and infect the body.
Being HIV positive can increases your risk of acquiring a variety of infections including other STIs. HIV compromises the human immune system leaving a person more susceptible to infection and engaging in unprotected sex can lead to other STIs which could be harder for the body to respond to and treat.