Safe sex is something that young adults often hear a lot about. But it can definitely be something that is hard to define and comprehend.
So, what is “safe” sex? Safe sex is any type of sexual activity in which the people involved take precautions to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy and other hazards. First and foremost, it reduces the risk of partners contracting STIs. Using a condom won’t prevent an STI 100 percent of the time, but it can definitely help. Condoms should always be seriously considered as a necessary precaution. Never think of the birth control pill as protection against STIs—it is only a preventative measure for pregnancy.
In addition to being aware of STI prevention, using condoms help to ward off infections and unwanted pregnancy. Condoms create a barrier that keeps a partner’s bodily fluids from getting into or on the other. It’s imperative to note that putting two condoms on at the same time does not make what you’re doing any safer—it actually puts you at a higher risk for an STI because the friction between the two condoms causes them to rip much more easily.
Men aren’t the only ones who can use condoms, either. Female condoms also reduce your risk of infections and are sold in most drug stores. These are meant for use instead of a condom on the penis.
Another way to have safer sex and to diminish the likelihood of contracting an STI is to become aware of who your partner has been with previously. There’s no need to go into excruciating detail about their sex life, but knowing how many people your partner has been with—and if they have ever been tested for STIs—is not asking a lot. It’s both mature and intelligent to question your sexual partners about whether or not they’ve been tested and what the results were.
Along with this, limiting the number of partners you have can also decrease your chances of contracting an STI. This is not to preach the ineffectual “be abstinent” message. Rather, it is important to keep in mind that the fewer people you have sex with, the less you are exposing yourself to possible STIs. Of course, if your partner has had many other partners, this could be a faulty strategy.
One additional way to stay safe sexually is to avoid engaging in sexual activity while intoxicated with drugs or alcohol. This can lead to high-risk decisions that you would not necessarily make while sober, such as forgetting to use a condom or take your regular birth control.
Having safe sex not only allows you to protect yourself physically, but it also provides you with peace of mind in knowing that you and your partner are making a conscious effort to be responsible. So do your research, have safer sex and be proud of yourself for being mature enough to prioritize your physical, mental and emotional well-being.