Safer Sex Guidelines

Safer Sex Guidelines

What is safe sex?

Having sex with only one partner
who only has sex with you when neither of you has a sexually transmitted infection
(STI)
is believed to be safe. But, many healthcare professionals believe there really is
no
such thing as safe sex. They believe the only way to be truly safe is not to have
sex.
All forms of sexual contact carry some risk.

Picture of male, latex condom

For example, kissing is thought to
be a safe activity. But herpes, and other diseases can be spread this way.

Female condom made of polyurethane

Condoms are commonly thought to
protect against STIs. While it’s true that condoms are useful in preventing certain
diseases, such as herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, they may not fully protect against
other diseases, such as genital warts, syphilis, or HIV.

Guidelines for safer sex

Limit your sexual activity to only one partner who is having sex only with you to
reduce exposure to disease-causing organisms. Follow these guidelines, which may provide
for safer sex:

  • Think twice before starting a
    sexual relationship with a new partner. First, discuss past partners, history of
    STIs, and drug use.

  • Use condoms every time you have sex. Choose a male condom made of latex or polyurethane–not
    natural materials. Only use polyurethane if you are allergic to latex. Female condoms
    are made of polyurethane.

  • Although studies say that
    nonoxynol-9 spermicide kills HIV in lab testing, it is not known whether
    spermicides, used alone or with condoms, provide protection against HIV. There are
    data that shows nonoynol-9 may increase the risk of HIV transmission, However,
    the CDC recommends that latex condoms, with or without spermicides, should be used
    to help prevent sexual transmission of HIV.

  • For oral sex, help protect your mouth by having your partner use a condom (male or
    female).

  • Don’t drink alcohol or use
    drugs. They increase the chance that you will participate in high-risk sexual
    behaviors.  

  • Women should not douche after
    intercourse. It does not protect against STIs. And, it could spread an infection
    farther into the reproductive tract, and can wash away spermicidal protection.

  • Have regular Pap tests, pelvic exams, and periodic tests for STIs.

  • Be aware of your partner’s body. Look for signs of a sore, blister, rash, or discharge.

  • Check your body frequently for signs of a sore, blister, rash, or discharge.

  • Consider sexual activities
    other than vaginal, oral, or anal sex. These are techniques that don’t involve the
    exchange of body fluids or contact between mucous membranes.