Sexual development is an essential part of life and knowing how to practice safe sex is even more important. However many adolescents have several questions about sex but have a tendency to shy away from speaking to an adult about the topic. This is normal. So here are some basic facts below to help you be healthier about sex. Find an adult you feel comfortable with- perhaps a teacher, healthcare clinician, or parents- discuss any further questions or concerns you may have.
WHAT IS SAFER SEX?
Safer sex is all about protecting you and your partners from sexually transmitted infections (STI) or infection that can be spread through sexual contact. In doing so, sex can be more pleasurable by decreasing any worry about spreading STIs.
-“I can’t get any STIs if I’m just having oral sex, right?”
The sexually transmitted infections can transfer during oral, vaginal, or anal sex, or during any genital skin to skin contact with another person. There are several different STIs. Body fluid that can carry STIs include blood (including a menstrual period), cemen (cum or pre-cum), and vaginal fluids.
There are many ways to have safe sex. One of the best method of protection involves using barriers to prevent fluids from passing into another’s body. Barriers include condoms (latex or polyurethane), male or female, and/or dental barriers (thin squares of latex) every time during oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
Barriers are the best way of practicing safe sex but do not get rid of the risk completely. Condoms can break or leak and therefore pass body fluid to your partner. Condoms also don’t completely cover your entire skin that is exposed during sex. Therefore, getting tested for STIs is another essential part of safe sex. Getting tested protects you by letting you know whether you have an STI and whether you need treatment or not. Getting the right treatment early also prevents you from spreading STIs to your partners.
Having no sex is a guaranteed way of being safe but this is not reasonable. So, there are other methods of being intimate without spreading STIs. Outercourse, including grinding or dryhumping, is a safe form of non-penetrative sex. Mutual masturbation, or self-masturbation while in the company of your partner, is another form of non-penetrative sex that is safe.
Another way to have safe sex is to be clear minded. Don’t have sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you’re not clear minded, you might not remember the importance of a condom or accidentally make bad choices that you might regret. It is also difficult to put on a condom correctly or remember other safe sex basics when you’re wasted or high.
Immunizations are also part of safe sex health. There aren’t that many preventative vaccines for STIs but immunizations can help the spread of two viruses, HPV and Hepatitis B. Speak to your local health provider to know if you need immunization.
Routine physicals are also part of safe sex health. During your physical is the best time to ask a health professional about your concerns about sex. Also, many STIs have no clear signs or symptoms and your physician can help evaluate and prevent any sex related concerns. STI screens are routinely recommended by the physician. However, for those patients at higher risk of STIs (multiple partners or previous history of STIs), the physician might offer preventative medication for HIV called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. This involves taking a daily pill and only protects you against HIV, using some form of barrier protection is still necessary for other STIs. For further information, speak to your healthcare provider. Also during the physicals, women over the age of 21 are recommended pap smears which help screen for cervical cancer and HPV. You may be due for one so speak to your local healthcare provider.
Lastly, pregnancy is a major concern for females that are having sex. Using protection can help prevent pregnancy and STIs. However using birth control and a barrier is the best way to reduce your chance of pregnancy to zero. Again, your healthcare provider can help you choose the best birth control method for you.
HEALTH ISSUES RELATED TO SEX
All types of STIs can infect the genitals. Having unprotected vaginal or anal sex can lead to transferring the following STIs:
-HPV and genital warts
Some STIs can lead to infection of the lips, mouth, and throat. Oral sex without protection with a condom or a dam can lead to the spread of the following STIs:
Some STIs can spread just from skin to skin contact without any passed body fluids. Genital skin to skin contact can spread:
Contact your local healthcare provider to see if you need to be tested.