Safer Sex Tips

Below, you will find general tips for practising safer sex, as well as safer sex information for oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex.

Some general tips for reducing your STI risk:

  • Choose low risk sexual activities that do not involve fluid exchange, such as hugging, massage or masturbating alone or in front of a partner(s).
  • Look at your own and your partner's genital area for any changes, including sores, discharge or unusual odours.
  • Getting tested and treated for STIs regularly will help you to reduce the risk of transmitting STIs to others.
  • Drinking or using drugs lowers your ability to make good decisions and make safer choices.
  • Reduce the risk of STIs when using sex toys by sterilizing the toys, using condoms with them, or not sharing them.
  • Do not share drug paraphernalia (needles and pipes).
  • Consider available vaccinations - information on these can be obtained by calling 1-800 SEX-SENSE.

Ask your partner

Here are a few questions to ask a new sexual partner to begin assessing your risk for STIs:

  • Have you ever had sex with someone before?
  • Have you ever had unprotected sex with someone before?
  • Have you ever had an STI?
  • When did you last have an STI test?
  • Do you have any symptoms of STIs?
  • Have you ever shared drug paraphernalia?

Keep in mind your partner may not know they have an STI as they may not have symptoms.

It can also be valuable to discuss values, boundaries, expectations, and their knowledge of STIs with your partner(s) before having sex.

Oral sex

  • Includes oral/vaginal, oral/penis, and oral/anal (rimming) sex.
  • Putting a condom on a penis, or placing an oral dam over the vaginal or anal area, before oral sex can help to protect against STIs.
  • A vaccine is available to immunize against Hepatitis A, which can be transmitted through oral/anal sex.

Vaginal sex

  • If it hurts, stop!
  • Use plenty of water-based lubricant, as any other forms of oil-based lubricant will dissolve condoms.
  • It is important to use a condom during vagnal sex and foreplay (as skin-to-skin contact can transmit herpes or HPV, the virus that causes genital warts).
  • Use gloves when inserting fingers or hands into the vagina, to reduce the STI risk for both the receptive and insertive partners.
  • Use condoms on sex toys or wash sex toys thoroughly between uses and betwen anal and vaginal sex.

Anal sex

  • If it hurts, stop!
  • Use plenty of water-based lubricant, as any other forms of oil-based lubricant will dissolve condoms.
  • It is important to use a condom during anal sex and foreplay (as skin-to-skin contact can transmit herpes or HPV, the virus that causes genital warts).
  • Condoms containing the spermicide Nonoxynol-9 are not recommended because they can irritate anal tissue, which could increase the risk of STI transmission.
  • Use gloves when inserting fingers or hands into the anus, to reduce the STI risk for both the receptive and insertive partners.
  • Use condoms on sex toys or wash sex toys thoroughly between uses and betwen anal and vaginal sex.

 

The only way to absolutely prevent an STI is to not exchange any blood or body fluids, and to avoid all skin/genital contact.

 

 

All information on this page has been reviewed by Options for Sexual Health's Director of Clinical Services, Danielle Chard RN, BSN.

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