When you choose to take part in sexual activity, have fun and think of creative ways to practice safer sex. Communicate with your sexual partner and make decisions together related to your needs and desires. Safer sex is pleasurable sex that each partner agrees to.
If you are sexually active or thinking of becoming sexually active, you should consider:
These methods of safer sex reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancy and STIs:
- Regular STI testing for both yourself and your partner(s)
- Consistent and proper use of contraception and latex or polyurethane barriers (gloves, dams or condoms)
- Abstinence - varying levels of abstinence have different levels of risk
- Monogamy - works only if both partners are committed to the decision and their behaviour reflects that choice
- Never sharing needles, razors, tooth brushes, sex toys, condoms and dams
- Avoiding oral sex after dental work, flossing or brushing of teeth (minute tears in the gums may provide a point of entry for bacteria and viruses.)
- Using only water-based lubricants with latex barriers - never use oil-based lubricants with latex barriers.
Other important points to keep in mind:
Preventing STIs and HIV: Condoms are the only contraceptives that offer protection from STIs and HIV. For the best protection against both STIs and pregnancy, use a condom along with another method of birth control.
Different sexual activities pose different levels of risk for STIs. Using a condom (external or internal) every time you have sex will help reduce your risk of getting an STI.
Masturbation (self-pleasuring) poses no risks for STIs or pregnancy.
Getting tested for STIs every three to six months and each time you have a new sexual partner will help you detect any STIs before serious complications arise.
If you do contract an STI there are treatments available. The sooner you seek treatment the better.
If you become pregnant there are three options available to you.
Sex should always be consensual for everyone involved, meaning that each partner should agree to the type of sexual activity they will do together. Forced sexual activity can lead to unintended pregnancy and STIs including HIV. Sexual assault is never your fault.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, find out about help available by contacting the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre website.
Stay informed about safer sex practices and contraception, and communicate your needs to your partner. When you make informed choices about your sexual and reproductive health, you make sex more enjoyable.