Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
If you’re like me, you’d like to avoid additional STDs.
If you’re not like me (I already have genital herpes, have had scabies and vaginitis – read about my story), you’d like to avoid STDs/STIs all together!
If you’re not like either of those examples, maybe you’d like to prevent transmission of an infection or disease you already have.
In any case, this guide is for you!
To best reduce the risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), the most effective thing to do would be to never have sex with anyone, ever – that’s no fun and totally LAME, right?!?!?
So, if you want to be sexual with partners, you can reduce the risk of STIs/STDs by around 70% (for infections like HPV and herpes) to about 90% (for fluid-transmitted infections like chlamydia or HIV) depending on the infection and the measures used to reduce the risk.
When to Use What
Ideally, here’s what you should be using to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections when you’re sexually active. This list is ordered with the highest risk activities first, ending with activities with the lowest risks.
- Anal intercourse or penis-in-vagina intercourse: Condom and lubricant, a few drops on the inside, plenty on the outside, added as needed (ALWAYS use a new condom if switching between vaginal and anal intercourse OR a female condom can be used for each orifice)
- Analingus (rimming): Dental dam or saran wrap barrier, lubricant
- Fellatio (giving head/blow job): Flavored condom or unlubricated condom
- Cunnilingus (going down/eating out): Dental dam or a saran wrap barrier, lubricant (on the inside)
- Manual sex (fingering/hand job): Latex gloves or freshly-washed hands, lubricant
- Kissing (making-out/French kissing): Mouthwash
The Safer Sex Kit:
For less than dinner and a movie, you can put together a safer sex kit with everything you need to help protect against disease and infection.
Having all this stuff in one place means you or partner(s) can get at it easily, and it doesn’t have to be a big interruption to the sex you’re having. Whew! You can get the things listed here online for sure and sometimes at your local pharmacy, drugstore, grocery store, clinic, or sex shop.
- Condoms: Preferably NOT spermicidal or flavored (unless you want flavored ones for oral sex), and in whatever styles or sizes you or your partners like or want to try. In case of latex sensitivities or allergies, you can include a couple condoms made of nitrile, polyurethane or polyisoprene. Female condoms are also latex-free. Never use animal-based condoms for safer sex: they do not block microorganisms.
- Latex or nitrile gloves: Most pharmacies or medical supply stores sell them.
- Dental dams. Dental dams are thin squares of latex used by holding in place over a vulva or anus. You can also make a dam with a condom – latex or nonlatex – and a pair of scissors: just cut across the condom from base to tip! If you take a latex glove and cut the fingers off, then cut across the back (non-thumb) edge, that’s another way to make a dam: you can put a tongue in the thumb hole if that works best. You could get a little nail scissors that come with a protected carrying case to keep for adapting gloves or condoms into dams.
- Lubricant. One bottle of latex-safe, water-based lube. You can also get lubricant in single-use tubes or packets and have a variety of lubes, including flavors. We don’t advise warming or numbing lubricants or use of flavored lubes vaginally as they can cause bacterial infections or irritate the vaginal walls – both increasing the risk of STDs/STIs.
- Mouthwash. Whatever you do, do not use a tooth brush immediately after as the tooth brush can cause inflammation of the gums or tiny cuts around the gum line which can create an entry point for bacteria and viruses
- A little tube of 100% aloe vera. Sometimes, the skin reacts to sex, certain lubricants or condoms. When it does, a little aloe can soothe the skin and stop swelling that can make the transmission of disease more likely.
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Do you have your own safer sex kit? Are you confused about when and how to use what? Are you opposed to some of the methods suggested? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!