Communication is the most important thing that you can do for your sex life! Out of all the wild, wonderful, and creative things that we can do with our mouths when it comes to sex, talking and communicating is the most powerful–and one of the most important things to communicate about with your sexual partner(s) is the issue of safer sex.
In my years as a sexual health counselor at the Hassle Free Clinic in Toronto, I worked with many different clients that were facing all sorts of challenges with their sexual health. And, the thing is, is that 90% of the time these challenges could have been avoided with a simple conversation!
So, if talking about safer sex is an important conversation to have, why do so many of us avoid it? Because it ruins the mood? Because it’s uncomfortable? Because your partner says they are ‘clean’? Because you’re a virgin? This list can go on and on. But do you know what else can ruin the mood? Having gonorrhea or an unplanned pregnancy (for hetero couples)! So, please have the talk with your partner(s)!
Safer sex can look like many different things, depending on who you are, and who your partner is. It’s a conversation to definitely have because it is important to be on the same page. Especially if you’re in a new relationship with someone and you’re looking at having sex with them. It can be an awkward conversation to have but once you have the conversation you will have peace of mind and hopefully lots and lots of pleasure. Here are 4 important questions to cover.
1). When was the last time you were tested? Anything I should be aware of?
2). Have there been any unsafe encounters since your last test?
3). Any condom breakages/slippages? (given your partner has a penis/has sex with penises/uses penetrative sex toys)
4). Is there anything else that I should know?
The easiest way to start this conversation is to share first by answering the questions yourself:
“Hey, safer sex is important for me. The last time I got tested was…and since then there have been no unsafe sexual activities; there have been no condom breakages or slippages (if your partner has a penis); and what I require to connect with you sexually is that we take the following sexual, safer sex measures. Then ask them. “What about you? When was the last time you got tested, any unsafe sexual encounters since that time?
If they say “don’t worry, I’m clean, or I’m safe”, do not accept that as an answer. The most common symptom of an STI is no symptom at all. The majority of the common sexually transmitted infections are asymptomatic, so you won’t even know until you get tested. If you are not comfortable with engaging with someone, or they do not want to take the necessary safer sex measures that you are comfortable with, do not have sex with them. Do not get pressured into having sex with them in any way, shape or form!
When we think about safer sex we can often forget about oral sex. It is uncommon for people to use condoms when engaging in oral sex–let’s face it condoms do not taste good, even the flavoured ones can be a little off putting! The thing to remember here is you can get STI’s (specifically gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis) if your partner has a penis and you enjoy it in your mouth specifically the risk of transmission increases if your partner’s penis touches the back of your throat. It is important to remember to ask your healthcare provider to take a swab of the back of your throat as this is something that is often overlooked during the testing process.
Another area that is often overlooked when it comes to safer is sex toys. If you are planning to share penetrative sex toys with a partner or you are going to use sex toys to stimulate different parts of your own body it is important to use condoms on the toy(s). After you are done playing, give them a good wash with some hot soap and water or there are some sex toy cleaning products that you can purchase as well. There may be toys that are not used for penetration and you want to ensure that they are kept clean also. What your toys are made out of can impact how easily they can be cleaned. Silicone or stainless steel are easier to clean (and sometimes more expensive).
There are plenty of people out there that will respect your boundaries around safer sex. If you are going to have an exclusive sexual relationship with a partner, before you stop using protection it is important that you both first go get a sexual health check-up, and ensure you both get a clean bill of health. I cannot tell you how many times that people don’t get checked out and then unknowingly pass something to their partner(s). That is a conversation that no one wants to have.
Now get out there and happy safer sexing!
- Posted by Dr. Stephen de Wit
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