Safe Sex Isn’t Just About Condoms
When we think about safe sex, the first thing that often comes to mind is the use of condoms. Whether we use them consistently, had one rip, dealt with awkward fumbling over packaging or made some dumb condom-less decisions in our lives, it is often one of the only things we are taught to consider when it comes to safer sex and sexual health. Well, there is more to it than just a lubricated rubber.
1. Type of Condom
There are three main types of condom materials on the market: latex, synthetic and natural membranes (think: lambskin). Latex is the most popular type, and when used consistently it is highly effective in preventing pregnancy and transmission of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). If you’re adding lube, you should stick to water-based lubricants as oils can weaken the latex. Synthetic condoms (often polyurethane) provide similar protection as latex ones, except you are free to use water or silicone-based lubes. Natural membrane condoms are great for pregnancy prevention, but actually allow certain STIs to pass through the pores. Although there is less research available, women’s condoms (often made of latex) provide protection from STIs. Always remember to check the expiry date.
2. Oral Sex & Finger Play
If there is an exchange of bodily fluids, then it is important to protect yourself. This includes oral sex (genital/anal-oral contact) and finger play (genital/anal-finger contact). Lucky for us, there are protective barriers made just for these purposes! Dental dams are typically used to cover the vulva or the anus. Latex or nitrile gloves are typically used to prevent the transfer of bodily fluids between orifices or partners. Male condoms should also be used during oral sex and often come in flavored options.
3. STI Testing
STI testing should be performed for two reasons: if you are symptomatic or if you are asymptomatic but meet certain criteria like engaging in sexual activities with a new partner or multiple partners, forced sexual activity, or follow up of a previous STI treatment. Asymptomatic STIs can still be transmitted to partners. Untreated STIs (whether or not you have symptoms) can lead to all sorts of complications like infertility, chronic pelvic pain and facilitation of HIV transmission. If you aren’t sure, then it is safer to get tested.
4. Birth Control
While a major topic in itself, we can’t fail to mention how important birth control is for safe sex practices. Male and female condoms are the only forms of birth control that can also prevent STI transmission (except natural membranes). If you are capable of getting pregnant, don’t want a child and are in contact with semen, then you should consider your preventative options.
5. Sex Toys
Firstly, you need to know that there are sex toys made from safe materials (silicone, metal, glass, ABS plastic and treated wood) and unsafe sex toys (porous materials and toxic materials). For obvious reasons, you should stay away from toxic toys. Secondly, any sex toy that you use – regardless of material – needs to be sterilized when sharing amongst different people. They also need to be sterilized if going from anal to vaginal on any person. Protective barriers like synthetic condoms can be used to help reduce bacteria and make them easier to clean.
There are two types of communication with safe sex. It is necessary to discuss which safe sex practices you will be using: which barrier methods, any STI concerns and which birth control methods. You also need to take care of emotional health by discussing consent and any limits that need to be adhered to. Everyone should feel comfortable engaging in sexual activities. Communication is an essential part of safe sex.
Safe sex isn’t just about condoms, but it definitely keeps everyone healthy, feeling good and safe to have some fun!
THE FUTURE OF SAFE SEX
When you think about words that are inherently sexy, “safe” might not be one that immediately springs to mind. But think again. Safe sex, safe word… Ok, now we’re talking!
Safe sex has been a concern dating back thousands of years, and in ancient civilizations, it was considered primarily the woman’s responsibility. Usually, women used rudimentary cervical caps and sometimes relied on odd concoctions of herbs. The world’s first condom may date back to the Renaissance or earlier, and Casanova definitely used a prophylactic to avoid impregnating all those mistresses!
Anyone who’s gotten it on recently knows that there is now a bevy of safe sex accouterments to choose from, including both innovative and classic condom designs. A walk down the family planning aisle at your local drugstore or grocery store shows just how randy and particular we all are! You can now buy condoms ribbed for your pleasure, extra large condoms for the prodigious among us, or even ultra-ultra-thin condoms that feel like nothing at all.
But all of this relies on two people being in the same place at the same time in order to have sex. And although condoms reduce the risk of transmitting STIs and STDs, there is still a slight risk.
ENTER: THE NEW GENERATION OF SMART, SAFE, SEXY ADULT TOYS.
While sex toys are nothing new, these certainly aren’t the pleasure products of years past! For so long, using a sex toy with a partner has meant being together, in person, manually using a female vibrator, a male masturbator, or a couples toy. It’s exciting, and it can be an amazing addition to your bedroom repertoire, but it’s still limiting.
Interactive adult toys are the latest chapter in the innovation of safe sex, and they’re highly flexible. A sex toy that you can use remotely allows you to interact with people across the world, be it your long distance relationship partner or a one night stand in Monaco. And with cyberdildonics, the only things you’re transmitting are data and pleasure.
Finally, you can connect with your lover no matter where they are, and experience their intimate touch. It might sound futuristic, but it’s a reality in 2015.
WHAT WILL THE NEXT FEW YEARS BRING?
At this point, sex can only get safer as we educate the younger generations, speak freely about intimacy, and learn more about how to prevent infections and disease. We’re also learning more about how to create realistic sensations to make virtual reality ever more convincing. Part of this involves researching and developing technology to simulate human presence and trick your senses into thinking the virtual experience is a real scenario. We’re getting better at it all the time.
Think of your wildest sexual fantasies. Sex with Mr. Grey? Connect with your own Dom on a BDSM lifestyle site and play out your fantasies in VR. Starring in a virtual porno made for your personal consumption? You may be able to safely have a virtual gangbang from the comfort of your own bedroom in the next few years. All of this without any physical risk.
Cosmo Scharf, a young genius behind one of the most successful tech conferences in the US, believes that VR is the future.
“With virtual reality, you’ll be able to go inside the Internet. The Internet will become a place.”
Better living through science, eh?
Rebecca from A Couple of Kinks
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