Safer Sex

What is safer sex (safe sex)?
Safer sex is the practice of protecting yourself and your partner from infections and from unplanned pregnancies.

Remember, safer sex really starts right at the beginning – talking to your partner and being sure that you both want to have sex and are ready.

How does safer sex help me from getting STIs?
Safer sexual practices can also include kissing, massaging and mutual masturbation. Such practices can be part of the pleasurable aspect of a couple's sexual activities.

If you are going to have sexual intercourse, you can keep you and your partner safer by doing the following:

  • Always use a condom.
  • Only use the same condom once.
  • Get tested for STIs regularly.
  • Take PreP as indicated - PreP prevents you from HIV only.
  • Do not have sex if you suspect that you or your partner might have an STIs.
  • Do not have sex if you or your partner has a visible sore, ulcer or lump on their genitals or anal area.
  • STIs can be transmitted through sex toys. Always clean toys after use and wash your hands after removing the condom. Keep to your own sex toys and use condoms.
  • Avoid use of excessive drugs and alcohol.
  • Get vaccinated for Hepatitis A, B and Human Papilloma Virus.
  • Carry out non-penetrative sex such as mutual masturbation or outercourse (N.B. masturbation or outercourse still poses the risk of exposure to lice, scabies, warts or unwanted pregnancy. Anything that involves skin-to-skin genital touching or sharing sexual fluids can transmit STIs. If the semen gets on a vulva during outer course, pregnancy can happen).

How do you get an STI?
STIs are infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual activity including:

Safer sex means taking steps to protect yourself and your sexual partner from STIs during sex.

Can I use lubricant to make sex safer?
Lubricants can make sex safer, increase comfort and pleasure at the same time. The friction that happens during sex can cause irritation and even small tears on the skin. Friction can also make condoms break more easily, that make it easier for STIs to get into your body. Most condoms are pre-lubricated, however if you want to add more always make sure that your lube is safe to use with condoms. Water based lubricants are recommended. Oil-based lubricants or other gels such as lotions, baby oil and wax can break down the latex of the condom and irritate your genitals.

Using lubricants during anal sex is highly recommended. Unlike, the vagina, the anus is not lubricated. Without lube, anal sex can be painful and irritations and tears in the anus and in the rectum can easily happen, which again can put you at risk for STIs and HIV.