Women have traditionally found it hard to talk about sex, yet alone safer sex. There are several common reasons for not talking about or practising safer sex, one of these may be a lack of information. We hope that the information we provide will perhaps encourage women to have safer sex discussions with their partner(s).
Practicing safer sex is one way of protecting yourself against infection from STI’s, including HIV/AIDS. It is important to realise that safer sex is not a rigid set of rules and regulations, but rather about having information on how STI’s are transmitted and making clearer choices.
The following list is not exhaustive, but includes a few examples of sexual activities which some women enjoy. You can have fun with your partner(s) discussing the safety of those practices that appeal to you, using the information about transmission of STI’s given on this site.
Sexual games can be a great way of getting to know your partner and of building up trust. Teasing, blindfolding, being tied up, massage, body rubbing, phone sex and sharing fantasies can allow you to have sexy fun together and reduce the risk of STI’s or HIV.
As a general rule:
Any activity involving body fluids (blood, seminal fluid, semen, vaginal fluid), and the possible transference of fluids may be deemed UNSAFE.
Condoms are placed over the penis before having sex, female condoms are for putting inside a vagina before having sex. Both condoms and female condoms are designed to catch semen as it leaves the penis. They can also be used to prevent transmission of any infection that is carried in the semen or vaginal fluid and this includes HIV. Condoms come in many different sizes and shapes as well as colours, designs and flavours. Female condoms are not so diverse. Experimenting with different ranges of condoms and female condoms is a great way to practice safer sex whilst allowing you to decide which shape, size and make suits you best. It is advisable to use condoms on phallic shaped sex toys (vibrators/dildos) to prevent transference of body fluids.
A man withdrawing his penis before ejaculation (before he cums) is unsafe, as a fluid (pre-cum) is released during sex which can transmit any infections/sperm present.
Oral sex (mouth or tongue touching genitals – mouth to vagina, mouth to penis, mouth to anus) is considered less risky than anal or vaginal penetrative sex, but it is not entirely safe. The risk would increase if there are cuts or sores on the vagina, penis, in the mouth or throat, or if the woman is menstruating (having her period), and her blood is in contact with her partner’s mouth.
Using a barrier such as a glyde dam or condom can help to increase the safety of sexual activities that involve the mouth. This section of the website has information on how to use glyde dams and condoms.
Safer sex isn’t just about using a barrier. There are many different ways of having sex and no one way is right or wrong as long as both parties consent. Safer sex isn’t just about staying free from infections or not getting pregnant, it is also about making choices that allow us to feel good about ourselves. Our sexual health is how we feel, think and behave. Keeping yourself healthy sexually can involve physical check-ups like sexual health screening and personal development like assertiveness, but it can also include being able to say no to something you do not wish to do or not engaging in something just because you are using alcohol or other drugs.
Whatever type of sex you have, be it with a lover, a partner, a stranger, male or female, you both deserve to feel good about it. Safer sex can be as fun or as serious as you like and because you are in control of it, safer sex is always, on your terms. By getting into the habit of practicing safer sex you can express yourself and still have fun.
However, safer sex is not just about what you do and staying safe from infections. It also includes how you feel and think about yourself during or after sexual activity.
Every sexually active woman, regardless of sexual preference, is capable of coming in contact with – and transmitting – Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s), including HIV.
Lesbians have traditionally been considered to have a low risk of contracting STI’s and HIV/AIDS. This may have created a false sense of security for many lesbians, bi-sexuals and women who have sex with women. However, this is not correct and there are documented cases of women to women transmission of many STI’s including HIV. Women who identify themselves as lesbians may also become infected through sharing sex-toys or needles for injecting drugs, or through intercourse with men.
Because of this, no matter who you have sex with, we would ask you to look at the diagram below and try to determine whether you need a sexual health screening.
We call this the sexual health maze!!
A larger version of the sexual health maze
can be downloaded here for ease of use.