Deciding to have sex is a big step. It can be scary, nerve-wracking, and–most of all–super exciting. Practicing safe sex means that you can more easily enjoy having sex with a new partner, confident in the knowledge that you’re protecting your body and your health, and that you’ll be able to have fun exploring your sexuality with a partner you trust. You need to learn to stay safe against STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and how to avoid other risky sexual behaviours.
Get tested regularly. Go to your doctor or a free clinic regularly to get screened for HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections or diseases. Get tested together before entering into a new relationship, and get tested regularly while you’re in relationships, to be on the safe side.
Use latex condoms. Male condoms should be used for any kind of sex, including vaginal, anal, and oral contact. The male latex condom is easy to use, efficient, cheap, and widely available for free at Planned Parenthood locations and other counseling services. Consistently and correctly using latex condoms during sexual intercourse can reduce the risk of STDs and pregnancy with up to 99% reliability.
They are effective against most STIs and can help reduce the chances of pregnancy, though the failure rate is higher than with hormonal contraception.
Dental dams are latex sheets, or condoms that have been cut open to form squares, used to reduce the risk of passing blood and other fluids to the mouth from the genitals. These are effective in preventing STIs and HIV.
The risk of infection when having intercourse anally is greater because the skin of the anus is thinner, making infection and disease transmission more of a possibility. Likewise, sexually transmitted diseases and infections are transmittable between the mouth and the genitals, making unprotected oral sex also a risky behavior.
Go with your partner and do it together if you’re nervous. It’s not lame to request that your partner do this enthusiastically and willingly. If your partner is not willing to practice safe sex, find another partner.
If you’re allergic to latex, you can also use polyurethane condoms, which offer some protection against STIs. Natural or lambskin condoms offer reliable protection against pregnancy, but the material isn’t fine enough to prevent the transmission of some infections, making them less reliable for that purpose.
You should never use a female and male condom at the same time, which can cause friction that will tear one or both of the condoms, making them ineffective.
To use a dental dam, first make sure the latex doesn’t have any holes, tears, or other damage. Rinse off any cornstarch if necessary, as this can promote vaginal infection. Cover the genitalia or anus while performing oral sex.
Never switch back and forth between the vagina and anus without first replacing the dental dam. Discard after use. Never reuse a dental dam.