Over time, there has been debate regarding what terms to use for this.† Originally, it was called ďsafe sex;Ē however, since there is such thing as condom failure, ďsafe sexĒ has turned into ďsafer sex.Ē† This has not changed how safe it actually is, but is more accurate when describing it.
As Iím sure everyone has heard, abstaining from sex, or having a monogamous relationship with someone who has no STDs are the only true safe sex practices.† While nice in theory, these arenít realistic for quite a few of us out there.† As a consequence, we must practice safer sex to prevent infection.
Safer sex, in a nutshell, means sex which the chance of transmission of HIV and most other STDs is very, very low.† This includes oral, anal and vaginal sex with proper use of a condom and/or dental dam, as well as other activities which do not transmit the diseases, regardless of the use of a condom or dental dam (i.e. mutual masturbation).† Certain things will make safer sex even safer, and other things may make safer sex less safe.† Safer sex also includes things such as discussion of these issues with your partners, keeping the number of sexual partners down, etc., but for purposes of this discussion, weíll just assume the sex weíre talking about is with a one-night stand you know nothing about (therefore, you should be assuming the person is HIV+, even if he or she happens not to be.)
Unfortunately, safer sex will not protect you from all STDs.† Herpes, genital warts, crabs and scabies are generally unaffected by the use of a condom or dental dam.† To help prevent yourself from getting these, youíre best bet is to try to examine the person as much as possible to look for possible signs (all of these diseases have visible symptoms.)† Now, examining a person before sex may not be easy.†† For example, to identify crabs, you would have to thoroughly examine the person, preferably with a magnifying lens.† Somehow I think most men would feel pretty inferior if you go at their crotch with a magnifying lens, nor would I think most women would appreciate it very much either.† So your options for those basically are take your chances or only have sex with someone you know doesnít carry any STDs.
When used properly, condoms and dental dams are highly effective against transmission of HIV and most other STDs.† Condoms may fail, but that is almost always due to user error and not design flaw.† When used correctly, they are effective more than 99% of the time.
It is also important to note that two people who are HIV positive should continue to practice safer sex.† Although not widely proven, it is believed that you could pass a different strain of the virus to your partner, which may lead to the disease progressing faster and causing resistance to treatments.
A condom is a rolled-up piece of latex, animal skin or polyurethane which, when unrolled, is shaped like a ďpenis sockĒ and is intended to cover the entire length of the penis.† It will have a tip at the end of it, which is intended to catch the semen.† When used properly, condoms are very effective against pregnancy and, with the exception of animal skin condoms, are also very effective against the spread of STDs, including HIV.
Do not use your teeth when opening the condom wrapper.† You may accidentally tear the condom with your teeth and make it useless.†
To put a condom on, place the condom at the tip of the erect penis, then roll the condom down to the very base of the penis.† Once the penis is covered, squeeze the reservoir tip to remove any air.† After that, youíre pretty much ready to go at it.† Once you have completed the act, hold the condom at the base of the penis and remove yourself from your partner.† Once youíre a reasonable distance away from your partnerís genitals (enough that nothing is going to spill out onto him or her), remove the condom and dispose of it.† Do NOT flush condoms down the toilet!† They are not biodegradable and are not intended to be flushed.† Throw them in a trash can.† If youíre embarrassed by having a condom in your trash, wrap it up in something else.
Use a new condom for each sex act.† If you orgasm, and are still able to go at it, change to a new condom.† Condoms are not reusable.† Wearing more than one condom at the same time, however, is actually less safe than just wearing one.† This is because the friction between the two (or more) condoms will increase the likelihood of breakage.
Condoms do come in various sizes, colors, thickness and other variations.† Ribbed condoms are considered effective; however, I personally donít trust themÖseems too much an opportunity for breaking.† However, if you like to use the ribbed kind, more power to you.† Thinner condoms, while still effective, do have a higher likelihood of breaking, so you must keep that in mind.† They also come in lubed and non-lubed.† For vaginal sex, the lubrication on the condom, coupled with the womanís natural lubrication, may be enough; however, anal sex requires additional lubrication, and what is on the condom will not be enough.† Iíll talk more about lubes later though.† Condoms made from animal skin are effective to prevent pregnancy; however, they are NOT effective in preventing STDs, including HIV.† The pores in the animal skin condoms are large enough that although sperm will not pass through, viruses and bacteria can.† Many condoms also come lubricated with nonoxyinol-9.† This is a sperm-killing substance, which although, again, will help prevent pregnancy, will do nothing to prevent HIV transmission, and many people are allergic to it.
Most condoms you will find are made of latex; however, there are some people who are allergic to latex.† If you are allergic, use the polyurethane type.† These are just as effective as their latex counterparts; however, they are more expensive.
Flavored condoms are primarily intended for use during oral sex, but may also be used for anal and vaginal sex.† Again, if you use them for anal or vaginal sex, they contain no lubrication, so additional lubricant will be necessary to avoid breaking.† They come with some sort of flavoring on them, usually something fruity like strawberry or banana.† As a warning, the flavor wears off pretty quickly, and youíre left sucking on a plain old latex condom before too long.† If you need a flavor to keep the fact youíre sucking on latex out of your mind, try keeping some sort of syrup near by.† This will not only make the taste experience a bit more pleasurable for you, it can also be rather erotic.
Condoms are also recommended when using sex toys, such as dildos and vibrators.† However, change the condom before inserting the toy into someone else, otherwise it defeats the point of using a condom at all.
Even when using a condom, it is even safer if the man does not orgasm while inside the other person.
A dental dam is a flat piece of plastic or latex that is placed over the vagina during oral sex on a woman or over the asshole during rimming (on either a man or woman).† A purchased dental dam is typically made out of latex, and may be flavored.† If you donít want to use the bought type, or are allergic to latex, a cut condom or plastic wrap will work in a pinch.† You will most likely need to use your hands to keep it in place (unlike a condom, itís most likely not going to just stay there.)
To be honest, I donít know of anyone who actually uses these things with any sort of regularity, but if you want to decrease your chances of contracting something from oral sex on a woman or during rimming, these are highly effective.
Inadequate or inappropriate lubrication is the leading cause of condom failure.† If things arenít lubricated enough, friction can cause the condom to break.† Also, a lack of lubrication will lead to an increased likelihood of small cuts and tears occurring in the skin, which increases the likelihood of transmission of HIV.
Women naturally lubricate themselves when sexually excited; however, sometimes not enough to be satisfactory.† During anal sex, there isnít very much in the way of natural lubrication, so additional lube is necessary.† If there isnít enough lubrication so that the penis easily slides in and out of the other person, the chances of the condom breaking are increased.
Unless you have overactive salivary glands and are able to produce enough spit to use as lube, you will most likely need something store bought.† Only use water-based lubricants, not oil-based ones.† Oil-based lubricants include things like vegetable oil, hand lotions or Vaseline, and will deteriorate the condom and cause it to break.† There are a large number of water-based lubrications on the market, including KY, Wet and Astroglide.† These are available in grocery stores, drug stores, sex stores and other places.† Water based does not mean, however, you can use plain water as a lube; it wonít work.† These all have different ingredients, so if you find youíre allergic to a particular type or donít like the texture of it, try something else.
Itís okay to place some lube on the inside of the condom or on the penis before wearing the condom, but be careful not to use so much that the condom will slip off.† Feel free to apply a generous amount of lube on the outside of the condom though.
Some lubrications are now being shown that they may be effective in helping prevent transmission of HIV, which in turn will make the experience even safer.† They are not, however, effective when used alone, so they should be used in addition to, not in lieu of, a condom.
We need to be realistic when talking about using condoms and dental dams for oral sex.† Although in theory it sounds wonderful, most of us just arenít going to do it.† Itís not pleasant to lick or suck latex, no matter what flavoring they add to it.† Not to mention, I have a hard time thinking my partner should taste like a strawberry.† When performing oral sex on a woman, there is really nothing short of a dental dam and not going down on a woman when you have cuts or sores in your mouth that you can do to make the experience safer.† However, when performing oral sex on a man without a condom, there are certain things you can do to make it safer.†
The safest way to have oral sex with a man without a condom is to not take the head of the penis in your mouth.† If you simply lick or suck on the shaft of the penis, the chances of you getting any infectious fluids in your mouth are next to none, so this is very safe.† However, since this doesnít necessarily translate into enjoyment for your partner, many people will not go this route.† If you chose to take the head in your mouth, there are still ways to make it safer.
First, never let him come in your mouth.† Pre-come doesnít contain the virus in as large a quantity, and when mixed with saliva is pretty damn low risk for infection.† Many people I know donít like it when the guy comes in their mouth anyway, so this isnít a big sacrifice for them.† If you are one of the people that prefer to have him come in your mouth, keep in mind your risk of contracting a disease will be higher.† Spitting versus swallowing really doesnít seem to make a big difference.† There are differing opinions on why this is.† One is that if you spit, you have the semen in your mouth for a longer time while trying to find a proper place to spit it out.† If you swallow, it is said that it gives the semen access to more sensitive membranes in the back of your throat; however, once the semen hits stomach acids, the semen, and any pathogens with it, are instantly killed.† However, most agree that spitting is slightly safer than swallowing.†
If you donít think you will know if heís about to come, there are tricks to be able to tell.† First, and probably the most accurate, is have him tell you when heís about to come.† Some guys may not be able or willing to do this, so then come the other tricks.† The male body generally has a very specific set of responses when an orgasm is about to happen.† First, the penis will become even more rigid and erect shortly before orgasm.† The testicles tend to rise towards the body shortly before orgasm as well.† Other signs include increased breathing or moaning, and his body will tense up and/or shake.† Although there is no guarantee that you wonít get hit by an unexpected gusher, these are a general role of thumb on what to look out for if you donít want him to come in your mouth.
Next, never perform oral sex on someone if you have cuts or sores in or around your mouth or if you see cuts or sores on his penis.† There are differing opinions on this, but as the general role of thumb, if the cut or sore is visible, itís large enough to have possible transmission of HIV.† You frequently hear that with vaginal or anal sex, the cuts could be microscopic and the virus will still be able to penetrate them.† This is not as true with oral sex.† Saliva, due to itís low salt content, inhibits HIV from being transmitted, so it will usually protect those microscopic cuts as well; however, if the cut or sore is visible, it is more likely saliva will not be sufficient to prevent the virus from being transmitted.† Also, never perform oral sex on someone when you have a sore throat.† This irritation of the membranes makes them more vulnerable to infection.
Also, itís not particularly advisable to ďdeep throatĒ a man.† ďDeep throatĒ means taking the penis as far into your mouth as you possibly can, usually partially down the back of your throat.† This can cause irritation to your throat, which in turn would make it more susceptible to infection.
If itís been less than 4 hours since you last brushed your teeth, you should probably refrain from performing oral sex on anyone as well.† Many people irritate their gums when brushing, leaving an opportunity for HIV.† However, the gums and mouth are one of the fastest healing parts of your entire body, so the effects donít last terribly long.† But, for the love of God, brush your teeth!† Poor oral hygiene will put you at more risk of infection than brushing your teeth regularly, not to mention, bad breath is not a good way to make friends.
Okay, this is probably the most difficult part of safer sex.† There is nothing less sexy than talking about disease during the heat of the moment.† The easiest option is talking to your partner about sexual history and what risks you are both willing or unwilling to take prior to getting to that point, but thatís not always practical.† Remember, due to the fact this disease has been around for so long and the tons of information out there on the subject, very few people are unaware of safer sex at this point, so it shouldnít be considered a taboo subject.† If you happen to not have an opportunity to talk to your partner prior to having sex with him or her, keep in mind itís better to ruin the moment than acquire a life-threatening illness, and after a moment of awkwardness, itís usually not too difficult to get back into the swing of things.
The most important thing about talking to your partner to remember is if youíre uncomfortable talking about sex with your partner, you probably shouldnít be having sex with him or her at all.
Another issue with safer sex, letís face it, is itís not very sexy.† Condoms do decrease sensation and the feeling of intimacy.† Also, I can say from personal experience, sitting there waiting for someone to put a condom on is rather awkward itself, especially after a round of hot and heavy foreplay.† There are things you can do to make the experience slightly sexier, such as put the condom on the person yourself, although that isnít as easy as it sounds.† I have no issues putting condoms on myself, but when Iíve tried to put them on someone else, it can be a rather difficult thing to do, but maybe thatís just me.† Also continuing foreplay while putting the condom on can help alleviate some awkwardness.† Although the drawback of that is the person may not be paying as close attention to what he is doing and put the condom on wrong.† You can also put the condom on prior to doing anything, but if the guy loses his hard-on, the condom can come off.† So, basically, there is no right or wrong way to make it a more pleasurable experience.† Thatís going to be up to what you are and are not comfortable with.† But, despite itís drawbacks, I think most people will agree, safer sex is necessary.