How do you define “safe sex”?
You might think about protection during intercourse, like condoms and birth control, or getting regularly tested for STDs like HIV, syphilis and gonorrhea. The truth is that safe sex is so much more than what you do after you’ve been intimate with someone. Safe sex happens before, during and after any type of sexual encounter, and it’s more important than ever.
STD rates are more common than ever before in America. The Center for Disease Control reports that there were 1.7 million new cases of chlamydia diagnosed in 2017, along with 555,608 cases of gonorrhea and 30,644 cases of syphilis. Young people between the ages of 15-24 make up more than half of all new STD diagnoses.
We get it. Adolescence and young adulthood are exciting times filled with discoveries about yourself and the world around you. For many people, college is their first taste of true freedom, which means they have the chance to date freely and explore themselves and their sexualities in a way they couldn’t before.
Sexual exploration comes with a risk, though, and it’s important to understand how to practice safe sex so you can have the most enjoyable experiences possible without jeopardizing your mental or physical well-being.
Thoughts on Safe Sex
Your sex life starts way before you ever even lose your virginity. In order to practice safe sex, you have to be ready. There is a lot of unexpected things that can happen when you’re in bed with someone, even if you’re only performing oral or getting frisky with foreplay and making out.
Make sure that you are comfortable with yourself and the person you’re considering sleeping with. Safe sex starts from a feeling of security in both yourself and your relationship.
If someone makes you feel pressured to sleep with them because “everyone our age is doing it” or you think you owe them, walk away. Your sexuality has no timeline, and there’s no right age to lose your virginity.
There’s also no right time to be intimate with someone you’re dating. Every couple and individual is different; make sure you are with someone you can openly discuss your boundaries with without feeling judged or shamed.
Safe Sex Talks
Before you get hot and heavy with someone, it’s important to talk about your sexual history. No one has to disclose how many partners they’ve had, but they should be able to tell you when the last time they got tested was and whether or not they do or could be carrying any STDs.
You can get an STD even if someone isn’t experiencing any symptoms or has an outbreak.
If you feel too awkward or uncomfortable asking about someone’s sexual health, then you shouldn’t be sleeping with them.
Ask someone how often they get tested, and what they’d do in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. These aren’t just far-off, what-if scenarios. They’re real probabilities when you have sex, even if you use protection. Make sure you only share your body with someone you trust.
Safe Sex Acts
When you’re sexually active, it’s a good idea to get tested at least once a year. Annual STD screenings can be done at a clinic near you. If you are having sex with multiple partners doctors recommend getting tested every three months. They’re fast, affordable and the best way to ensure that you’re always safe.
Paige Jirsa works with https://stdtestingfacilities.com/, which provides users same day STD testing in a discrete and proficient manner.