Sex is pretty fun, right? It’s exciting, it feels good, and it can help us grow closer with our partner.

Of course, when it comes to sex we’re all aware there’s something important we need to factor in: protection. Staying safe is a must, regardless of how caught up in the moment you and your partner are. How well do you know the ins-and-outs of a fun, safe sexual experience?

To help you figure things out for yourself, here’s our guide to safe sex.

CONDOMS

When you think of condoms, it’s probably male condoms that first come to mind - these protect against STIs and pregnancy and are the most commonly used. But did you know about female condoms? Women put these inside their vagina before sex (or their partners put it in for them) and just like the male equivalent they can also create a barrier to prevent STIs and pregnancy.

Tell me more…

Both male and female condoms help you stay safe from STIs, especially if you’re enjoying an encounter but aren’t aware of your partner's sexual health. Men’s condoms come in a bunch of shapes, sizes and thicknesses, so you can explore and find one that works for you. It’s important you always use condoms correctly and consistently.

THE PILL

The pill is the most common form of contraception taken by women all over the world. This daily tablet contains hormones that prevent pregnancy in a variety of ways, depending on the type of pill (there are loads of different ones). Other forms of contraception for women are growing in popularity and availability, like the IUD (or coil) and the implant. If you or your partner would like to learn more about the pill (commonly referred to as “birth control”, you should ask your doctor.

Don’t forget though…

The pill doesn’t protect against STIs like condoms do, and sometimes it can cause side effects(1) that aren’t so great, including nausea, tenderness, bleeding between periods and mood changes. If you experience any side effects while taking the pill, talk it over with your doctor or visit a local sexual health clinic. Currently, the pill is currently only available for females, though a male version is being tested.

CONSENT

Whilst not a form of contraception, consent should be at the centre of any sexual experience. Making sure you and your partner are on the same page, are both explicitly excited about doing it and feel comfortable… hot!

Bear in mind…

Drinking and drugs can affect consent – if you or your partner(s) are drunk or high then you might not have the capacity to consent. It’s always better to wait until everyone’s in the right state of mind. Always make sure you have consent from the person you’re with before sex, and likewise never do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. Your partner can change their mind so it’s important to keep open communication throughout.

If you want to learn more about your contraception options, talk it over with your doctor or local sexual health clinic to determine the best option for you. Also, before having sex, always ensure both you and your partner have been tested for STIs. Openly disclosing your status with your partner can help mitigate risk of transmission.

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