Health and Sex
Whether it's a one-night thing, a new relationship, or getting close with someone familiar, you can still have healthier sex. Being Healthysexual is all about protecting your sexual health without stopping the fun.
Before you can protect yourself, you should know:
Healthcare providers also play an important role in protecting your sexual health. Talk to one about all the ways to stay healthy.
"Honestly, I never thought of HIV as an STI."
- STI = sexually transmitted infection. Some people also use the term STD (sexually transmitted disease). And did you know even HIV is classified as an STI?
- STIs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, body fluids, or both during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Even if you don't see any symptoms, there's still a chance you could have been exposed to an STI.
- STIs that can be spread through skin-to-skin contact include syphilis, genital herpes, and HPV.
- STIs that can be spread through body fluids (like pre-cum, cum, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, breast milk, and blood) include HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and Hepatitis A, B, and C.
Nope. Pulling out won't prevent STIs (including HIV) or pregnancy.
The CDC has found that there is a 22% chance of getting pregnant when using the pulling-out method—this is because pre-cum can contain sperm.
And since STIs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact or body fluids like pre-cum, pulling out isn't a reliable method for protection.
Wrap It Up
One of the best ways to help protect yourself against STIs is a classic: the condom. Consistently using latex condoms and lube every time you have sex goes a loooong way in defending your downstairs situation (no matter how STIs are passed). But you need to make sure you're using them the right way.
But, condoms are just one part of an overall prevention package
Up your prevention game by adding:
- Testing (and retesting!)
Honest conversations with your partner(s)
- Ask your partner(s) about their HIV/STI status and when they were last tested
Partnering with a healthcare provider
- If you're HIV-negative, you and a healthcare provider can decide if prevention medicines for PrEP may be an option for you
- If you're HIV-positive, you and a healthcare provider can decide what HIV treatment options are right for you. Starting HIV treatment as soon as possible can help protect your health and help prevent passing HIV to others
Here Are the Dos and Don'ts of Doing It
Have genital contact
before putting the
Put one on before sex
and use one every time
from start to finish
Check for tears
Store them in
Use water-based or
Use oil-based lube
Use latex or
Use natural membrane
condoms (like lambskin)
Hold the base of the condom
while pulling out after sex
Yank it off. Gently
pull the condom off
Condoms and lube are just some of the tools in your healthier sex kit. Depending on your situation, prevention medicines might also be a good option.
Correctly and consistently using latex or polyurethane male condoms + lube can lower your chances of getting certain STIs, including HIV.
When used correctly and consistently as a prevention method, condoms are highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV: up to 91% for receptive anal sex and up to 80% for vaginal sex.
Only the Best
Know what works best when it comes to picking your condoms:
- Latex provides the best protection when used correctly and consistently from start to finish for each act of anal or vaginal sex.
- If you're allergic to latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene, when used
correctlyand consistently, is a good option.
- Natural membrane (or lambskin) is a no go! The tiny pores in these condoms don't block STIs, including HIV.
Lube It or Lose It
Lube helps reduce the friction that can cause condoms to break or tear. But not all lubes are created equal.
- ALWAYS use water-based or silicone-based lubes.
- NEVER use oil-based lubes. And AVOID petroleum jelly, mineral oil, massage oil, and body lotions. These can weaken condoms and cause them to break.
- Make sure you put the condom on first and the lube on second. Putting lube on before the condom can cause it to slip off. And keep using lube as you need it. A dry condom can break more easily than a lubricated one.