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 how:
Healthcare providers also play an important role in protecting your sexual health. Talk to one about all the ways to stay healthy.
How STIs Are Spread
- STIs spread through skin-to-skin contact, body fluids, or both.
- Oral, vaginal, and anal sex all count as skin-to-skin contact. Even if you don't see any symptoms, there's still a chance you could have been exposed to an STI like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or HPV.
- HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis A, B, and C are passed through body fluids. Those body fluids include:
pre-cum, cum, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, breast milk, and blood.
STI vs STD
What's the difference between a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? Not too much, really. A disease usually has certain symptoms associated with it. But many people don’t have symptoms when they’re infected, so using the broader term "STI" is a bit more accurate.
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 STIs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact or body fluids like pre-cum. So, pulling out isn't a reliable method for protection.
Wrap It Up
One of the best ways to 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.
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.
Consistently and correctly using latex or polyurethane male condoms + lube can lower your chances of getting HIV and certain other
Latex or polyurethane condoms (when used consistently) are highly effective in preventing HIV: about 70% 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.
- Polyurethane or polyisoprene, when used
correctlyand consistently, is a good option if you're allergic to latex.
- 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 latex and cause it 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.
Sexual networks also play a big role in your sexual health. Why's that?
Well, that's because your sexual network is how you are connected to people sexually. This includes everyone you've had sex with plus all of their partners, and so on.
Why does that matter? More sexual partners and more unprotected sex—especially in areas where there is a higher concentration of certain STIs—can mean increasing the chances of encountering an STI, like HIV.
Want to be more
Check out these resources:
The healthy sex
talk starts here
Use this guide to help get the ball rolling.
Want a healthcare provider who has more LGBT+ experience? The GLMA Doctor Locator can help find one near you.
Want to talk more
Talk to a healthcare provider. Don't have one? Find one here.
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