Sex can be fantastic, but there are two things that just can’t be ignored: STIs and unplanned pregnancy. The good news is that it’s completely within your power to protect yourself and ensure that sex is the fun, passionate, positive experience it should be.
What is safe sex?
Safe sex means having sexual contact with someone else while taking precautions that will protect yourself and your partner against unwanted pregnancy and STIs, such as genital warts, HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. For sex to be safe, partners must not exchange semen, vaginal fluids or blood.
It all starts with contraception
Condoms help prevent pregnancy, but unlike other contraception methods, also protect against STIs by acting as a physical barrier to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids. There are so many different types that there’s a condom to suit everyone, even if they have a latex allergy, so don’t fall for any excuses and check out the Durex® condom range to find the right one for you and your partner.
Putting on a condom can be an enjoyable part of sex that’s incorporated into foreplay, and doesn't have to feel like an inconvenient interruption. They need to be used correctly, though, so make sure you know how to put a condom on:
- Take the condom out of the packet, making sure you don’t tear it.
- Place it over the tip of the erect penis.
- If the condom has a teat, use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze air out.
- Roll the condom down to the base of the penis. If it won't roll down, it’s probably inside out, so try again with a new one.
- After sex, withdraw the penis, holding the condom at the base to avoid any spillage.
- If you’re unsure how to put a condom on, practice until you’re more confident.
If you have symptoms of an STI, it’s important to get yourself checked out. It is a good idea to get tested if you’ve had unprotected sex even if you don’t have symptoms, as not all infections give warning signs. Think of a trip to the genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic as giving yourself a sexual MOT, where you can get tested and treated for STIs. It’s easy and confidential, and if anything is picked up, most infections can be cured.
In most cases, you need to make an appointment, but some clinics offer a drop-in service, where you just turn up and wait. The tests themselves depend on what (if any) symptoms you have, and what tests you decide you want, but they may involve giving a blood or urine sample, or having swabs taken in and around your genitals. With some tests, you can get results on the same day, but some others can take a week or two to come back. In this case, the clinic will ask how you want to receive the results.
Protecting yourself and your partner by having safe sex is easy and means you have the power to protect your own health and have better sex. People don’t always know if they’re carrying an STI, so play it safe and use a condom.