Safer Sex

What is safer sex?

This is not intended to be a mood killer, rather a guide to the facts on safety.It's everyone's responsibility to have healthier, happier and safer sex lives. Catching an infection is a lot more off-putting than taking care of yourself and your partner, so take our advice and protect yourself from ALL sexually-transmitted infections. Many viral and bacterial sexually-transmitted infections are easier to catch and more common than HIV, which is why "safer sex" is about more than just using a condom.

Quick facts

  • One million people are infected with STIs around the world every day of the year.
  • Oral sexually-transmitted gonorrhoea is on the rise in the UK.

Precautions for greater safety

Penetrative sex - a condom should be put on before any genital contact. Infections can be transmitted without penetration or ejaculation. Don't move from anal to vaginal sex without changing the condom. If you don't have a spare, move from the vagina to the anus.

Penetrative anal sex - use a non-spermicidally-lubricated condom with extra water-based or silicone lubricant at all times.WHY? Without lubrication, the condom is more likely to burst and anal tears more likely to occur.  Never move from anal to vaginal sex without changing the condom. If you don't have a spare, move from the vagina to the anus.

Foreplay - cover cuts, sores and other skin lesions on fingers with waterproof plasters or latex gloves, particularly during a menstrual period or if anal foreplay is involved. If you don't have latex gloves to hand, it's safer to use a non-spermicidally-lubricated condom over one or two fingers than bare hands. If you're not using protection and you're going to move on to vaginal foreplay, it's vital to wash your hands after anal foreplay.

Sex toys - if you're sharing toys, use the same level of protection as for penetrative sex. Wash toys thoroughly between partners. Keep whips, chains and other articles used during S&M (sadomasochistic) fetish foreplay for personal use, particularly if you draw blood (or body fluids containing blood) during use.

Masturbation - there's no risk of infection if you're alone and using unshared items, unless a disease from one part of the body infects another through poor hygiene technique. An unwashed finger, for example, can spread genital gonorrhoea or chlamydia to the eye. During masturbation with a partner, stick to the guidelines for foreplay.

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