Sex is fun, everyone will agree.
But you know what else is fun? Living disease free, free from any Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
As much as sex is amazing and *insert a lot of good adjectives*, like all things in life, it warrants attention to detail, specifically to ensure safe sex and well being.
Why Safe Sex?
Safe sex is important for a lot of reasons:
- Pregnancies won’t seem good if you didn’t plan on it
- Sexual Transmitted Diseases or STDs aren’t all curable, plus, who would want additional stress because of one night of unsafe sex
Now that the premise to have safe sex is established, we can point towards some basic sex education; Condoms, more specifically, which Condoms to use!
Because while pregnancies can be avoided by use of birth control methods, sadly there’s nothing of that sort to avoid STDs and hence, the importance of condoms.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: The Monsters in the Sheets
Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STDs are viral or bacterial infections that spread generally through sexual contact. Considering how sex is an important need, STDs tend to be a public health problem, caused due to the transmission of viruses, bacteria as well as other parasites.
While some of the STDs such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis etc can be cured, there are quite some more such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome(HIV/AIDS), Herpes, Hepatitis B etc can’t be cured.
Generally, bacterial STDs can be cured with antibiotics while viral STDs will always stay and only their symptoms can be treated.
How Do STDs Spread?
Now that we understand what are Sexually Transmitted Diseases, let’s understand how do these diseases spread.
STDs are transmitted by coming in contact with diseased skin, mouth, rectum, genitals or body fluids. Thus, anyone who has unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected person stands to get infected with an STD.
Hence, the need of protection is paramount, however, if you have multiple sexual partners or you tend to indulge self in one night stands, it is equally important that you regularly keep yourself tested for STDs since the symptoms may or may not show.
Like every other disease, sexually transmitted diseases also have risk factors associated with it that can cause STD. This is the list of some of the risk factors:
- Sexual Contact(any kind; vaginal, anal, or oral) with one or more people who have had STDs currently or in the past
- Usually more than two sexual partners in a period of one year
- Multiple temporary sexual partners(one night stands)
- No use of contraception such as a condom or the use of birth control pills(non-barrier birth control)
- Male homosexual activity
- Use of injection drugs or use of same needles for multiple patients in a hospital
- Use of the same needle in the tattoo parlours
- Engaging in prostitution or survival sex( exchange of sex for food, money, shelter or drugs)
Generally, teenagers have a much higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases in comparison with any other age group since they are prone to more frequent unprotected sex. Add to the mixture that they are more prone biologically to develop an infection, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. Technically, teenagers are also less likely to approach Health Care services that might provide them with information about sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent them.
What are the Low Risk and High-Risk Activities?
Usually, Low-Risk Activities are the ones such as open mouth kiss( French kiss) as well as the hand-to-genital contact( for example handjob etc).
As for activities that are on a high end of risk spectrum for STDs, oral sex(anal or genital), vaginal and anal intercourse and other genital to genital contact tend to top the chart. Also, sharing sex toys without barriers(condoms etc) can be a high-risk factor too.
How to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Now, considering we know the problem and the associated risk factors, the best thing to do would be to talk about prevention, because let’s face it, we’re not going to abstain from sex, so might as well work on Prevention!
Although not beneficial from the sexual point of view, Abstinence will always be mentioned as the most reliable method for avoiding infection. Abstaining from sex( oral, vaginal or anal) will likely be enough to avoid sexually transmitted diseases unless you end up toying with dirty used needles.
Reduce Number of Sexual Partners
By reducing the number of sexual partners, one can greatly reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Even then, it’s important to keep your partner and yourself tested on a regular or yearly basis.
Make it a point to share the test results to maintain a commitment to the cause. Some studies have pointed out that by keeping a single sexual partner, one can reduce the chances of contracting STDs by up to 60%.
For people who tend to have frequent one night stands or bouts of sex with strangers, the best way to keep safe, is to practice Safe Sex.
As discussed previously, safe sex involves the use of condoms(male or female), gloves, and other appropriate barriers as and when required.
It’s important to never consummate vaginally, orally or anally without the use of proper protection. If in case your partner or you are at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, you need to stay consistent during oral sex as well and use dental dams or condoms even then!
It’s important to note that barriers such as condoms aren’t 100% protective against STDs, however, they immensely reduce the risk and hence are a much better choice to bet on.
By Mutual Monogamy, it’s meant that one agrees to have sexual contact with only one person and the other person does the same(i.e. is sexually active with only you).
It’s considered as one of the safest ways to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases. However, make sure you both get tested initially for STDs to confirm that none of you is infected.
The cornerstone of this type of arrangement depends upon open and honest conversations regarding sexuality and practising safe sex for protection.
Great sex is only great if it’s not worrisome. To keep yourself at that, it is important to plan before you have sex.
Usually, it’s difficult to abstain from sex in the heat of the moment, hence, it’s important that you plan ahead.
If you anticipate that you may have sex later in the day/night, always carry protection.
No matter how “unnatural” it may feel, the use of protection is important for both your partner and you, as it keeps both from unwanted complications later on, in the form of STDs or pregnancies.
Hence, it’s pretty important that you Plan Ahead. Always.
Use Condoms Unconditionally
Make it a point to always use or insist your partner to use condoms.
Consistent as well as the Correct use of the male condoms have been found to be highly effective in the reduction of occurrence and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
Use a condom every single time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
Additionally, NEVER reuse a condom.
For people who are allergic to latex, here’s a list of synthetic non-latex condoms you can use.
If you plan to use lubricants or lubes as they are popularly called, don’t use oil based lubes with latex condoms as latex can dissolve or tear due to it. Instead opt for water or Silicone based lubes, since they work well with any kind of condoms.
Nothing is more important than communicating with your partner to understand whether they have similar views as you do on Safe Sex.
Since misunderstandings may lead to lack of trust and other issues, it’s to be understood that all aspects of relationship require clear communication, which includes sexual contact.
This will help you speak clearly about monogamy as well as the exclusivity of your relationship leading to a better sex life owing from confidence in the relationship.
Even if it’s not a long-term partner, it’s important to address your woes about sexual wellness beforehand and if need be, learn to say NO. If you don’t wish to have sex, communicate the same to your partner.
Sex is a choice and if you don’t feel comfortable doing it with someone, irrespective of whether they bought you dinner or are in bed with you at the moment, it’s important that you say no. This is especially important if your ideology about the use of contraception(use of condoms) doesn’t match.
Get Tested Regularly
It’s better to be safe.
Anyone who’s been sexually active should ensure that they get consistently tested for various sexually transmitted diseases.
Regular testing( usually about once a year for adults) needs to be done. It’s recommended by doctors too since it also helps diagnose other issues.
It’s often said that one should be self-sufficient. This certainly holds true for self-satisfaction in terms of sex.
Sometimes, we end up constantly thinking about sex and find ourselves craving for it. This can end up in an unhealthy situation wherein one may end up having unprotective sex.
While we all crave sex, it’s important to not rush into it for inexplicable reasons. If in case, you are unable to practice Safe sex, you should know about pleasing self by masturbating.
There are absolutely no issues with masturbation and it is safe.
Avoid Mind-Altering Substances Before Sex
Avoid any mind-altering substances before sex to ensure your full conformity to the act. Substances like Alcohol or drug can impair judgement and cause you to make unwanted decisions.
It may also cause memory block where we may not fully remember what we consented(fully or partly) to while under influence.
Vaccinations and STDs
Vaccinations can prevent some of the sexually transmitted diseases.
Currently, vaccines are present to protect one from Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and HPV. You can speak to your doctor to understand which vaccine is recommended for you.
Ideally, to avoid any unpleasant situations, avoid sex with anyone who has a rash, discharge, genital sores or any such other symptoms. Unprotected sex can be safe only if your partner and you have been sexually active with each other and have tested negative for STDs since last six months at least.
- Use condoms as a means to have safe sex. While not 100% safe, condoms are still one of the most effective methods of preventing STDs. Additionally, know that the pull-out method won’t help against STDs and hence, use of barrier protection such as condoms is important to the highest degree
- Clean yourself before and after you have sex
- Get tested regularly and keep your vaccinations done as per the schedule
- Avoid sharing inner garments or towels.
- People with drug or alcohol abuse issues need to get help since these substances often result in impaired judgement and don’t result in safe sex.