How should I practice Safer sex?Protect yourself from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections: put on a latex condom before your partner’s genitals touch yours.
There are often risks involved with sex, but there are ways to make it safer. We say “safer” sex as a way of reminding people that less risk is not the same as no risk. But, safer sex can save your life.
Every woman needs to decide how much risk she is willing to accept, and what steps she can take to make sex safer. The following are different ways that women can reduce their risk:
- Avoid having sex at all. If you do not have sex, you will not be exposed to STIs. Some women may find this the best option, especially when they are young. However for most women, this choice is not possible or desirable.
- Have sex with only one partner, who you know for sure has sex with only you, and when you know for sure that neither of you was infected by a previous partner. This can only be known by testing for STIs.
- Have sex by touching genitals with your hands (mutual masturbation).
- Use condoms during oral sex. A barrier of latex or plastic helps prevent infection with herpes and gonorrhea in the throat. It also protects against the very small risk of infection with HIV through tiny cuts in the mouth.
- Always use latex condoms - for either men or women - when having vaginal or anal sex.
- Have sex in ways that avoid getting your partner’s body fluids in your vagina or anus. Sex using your mouth is much less likely to spread HIV. If you get semen in your mouth, spit it out (or at least swallow it) right away.
Other ways to lower risk:
- Have the man withdraw his penis before he comes (ejaculates). You can still get HIV if he has it, and you can still get pregnant, but it is not so likely since less semen gets inside your body.
- Using a diaphragm may lower your risk.
- Avoid dry sex. When the vagina (or anus) is dry, it tears more easily, and increases the chances of infection. Use saliva (spit), spermicide, or lubricant to make the vagina slippery. Do not use oil, lotion, or petroleum gel if you are using condoms - these can make the condom break.
- Get treated for any STIs you may have. Having one STI makes it easier to become infected with HIV or other STIs.