Safe sex is about ensuring that you are having sex in the safest possible way for you and whoever else is involved. Safe sex is mainly about protecting yourself or your partner from one of two things – unplanned pregnancy (in a male and female sexual relationship) and STIs (all sexual relationships). Safe sex can also mean ensuring that you and your sexual partner(s) are comfortable and happy in a sexual relationship. The best way to practice safe sex is to talk things through with your partner first and discuss protection and contraception. Although this may seem like a mood killer at the time, it’s a lot better than the worry of infections or pregnancy after. Here are some tips on having safe sex:
- If you or your partner are not planning to get pregnant then always use some form of contraception during sex. There is a whole range of contraception methods to choose from to prevent pregnancy, whether its condoms, femidoms, the pill or using a mobile app – there is something for everyone now. For more information on contraception and what’s available see here.
- STIs can be passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex so it’s best to use condoms with someone until you trust them and know that they don’t have an infection.
- Getting tested for STIs regularly is also part of having safe sex. The only way to be 100% sure someone doesn’t have an STI is to get tested.
- Consider the implications of drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs and having sex. Drugs and alcohol can often compromise safe sex and you may make decisions about sex with your beer goggles on that you wouldn’t have done if you were sober.
- Always consider consent before and during sex. When it comes to sex, consent means when all people involved in a sexual activity have agreed to take part. Consent can be expressed verbally and through body language. Any sort of sexual contact without consent is illegal, and sex without consent is rape. Consent is also something that can be compromised when alcohol and drugs are involved so it is so important to ensure that all parties involved in a sexual activity are in the right frame of mind to consent.
If you have had unprotected sex there is a risk that you could have an STI. STIs are mostly passed from person to person through bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid or blood and some can be passed on through skin-to-skin contact in the genital area. Most people who have an STI have no idea and don’t have any symptoms. More noticeable symptoms may include itching, unusual discharge from the vagina or penis and pain or bleeding during sex. For more information on STIs see here.
The best way to get tested is to go to your local sexual health clinic. You can also order free self-testing postal kits for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Where to go?
Leeds Sexual Health is your one stop shop for all your sexual health needs and questions. You can find out where the nearest and most appropriate sexual health clinic is for you as well as loads of information on STIs, contraception, pregnancy, abortion, sex and relationships and your body.
Student Wellbeing will be hosting two events either side of Valentine’s Day to raise awareness of sexual health and will also be giving away free condoms. Come along to get yours on Tuesday 13 February at The Gateway, Lesley Silver Building, City Campus, 10:00 to 15:00 or Thursday 15 February at Headingley Campus Student Hub, 10:00 to 15:00.