Disclaimer: I am not a professional! If you want to find a professional sex educator please look at my "Resources" page. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on my ask site: FYsexeducationquestions, though check out my FAQ first!
After making this post about STD/STI facts a lot of people started commenting about how they were never going to have sex and “I guess I’ll just stay a virgin forever.” which definitely was NOT my intent. I realized there was no way I could make a post about STDs and STIs without making a post about how to prevent them and treat them.
The first thing you need to do before you become sexual with someone is go together to get tested. Don’t make it about “I don’t trust you” but rather make it a group activity. A lot of people don’t know that they have an STD as some can be gotten from non-sexual activities and some have no symptoms. Also it’s a good way to get to know what to expect from getting tested and to make it a normal activity. When you’re sexually active you need to get tested at least once a year (regardless if you’re in a monogamous relationship or not). If you aren’t in a monogamous relationship it’s a good idea to get tested in between every new partner. I also want to stress that openness and honesty are a big part of any relationship- even if it’s only a sexual one. Make your partner feel comfortable enough with you that they can tell you if they’ve had sex with someone else, especially if it’s unprotected sex. Even if it’s a monogamous relationship and they cheated on you, it’s better to have them tell you so that you can both get tested than for them to be afraid that you’ll be mad at them and not tell you. Getting tested is important so if you or your partner does have something you can get treated and if your partner or yourself has any STDs or STIs you can be extra careful when you have sex.
Of course getting tested is just a part of it. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship you need to use protection. This is especially important if you’re having unplanned sex and therefor don’t know the status of your partner. There is this post which is about birth control, but none of these forms protect from STDs or STIs. Even if you’re on birth control, you should probably use some form of protection. The most common forms are condoms. There are two main types of condoms. External condoms are condoms that are put on the penis. Internal condoms are put inside the vagina. External condoms are the most accessible form of contraception; they come in many sizes, shapes, colours, textures, flavours, and many other bells and whistles. Internal condoms are good if you’re having trouble finding a condom that fits or if you have a vagina and are in control of the protection. They also have flaps that go over the vulva so they can protect against STDs that can be passed through skin contact like herpes or genital warts. Internal condoms can be more expensive though. External condoms are to also be used during oral sex being performed on a penis, anal sex or when rubbing penises together. Never use two condoms at once as this can cause them to break. It’s important to also make sure that you use one of these forms of protection when using sex toys that have been used by other people as well, as STDs can be passed that way as well. General reminder, if you go from anal sex to vaginal sex you need to switch condoms as well. Going from anus to vagina can spread germs and create infections. Also, lube is very important when using condoms. It keeps them from breaking through too much friction. Don’t use oil based lubes with anything made from latex as that can make them break. If you or your partner is allergic to latex, there are many options of non-latex condoms. Do not use lambskin condoms as they do not protect from STDs.
If you’re not having penetrative sex you can still pass STDs. This can be passed either through performing oral sex on a vagina/anus, receiving oral sex with a vagina/anus, or through rubbing vulvas. To protect yourself during any of these activities, use dental dams. When giving or receiving oral sex you can either buy a dental dam or make one from a condom, latex glove, or non microwavable saran wrap. To make one from a condom, cut off the tip and then down the side. To make one from a latex (or nitrel/vinyl if you or your partner is allergic) glove, cut off the fingers and then down and around the thumb. If you leave the thumb intact that also gives you a protected finger to use. If you’re scissoring or tribbing (having vulva on vulva sex) you need to be protected as well. You can use a dental dam harness to hold the dental dam in place. You can either buy one, or make one using garter belt clips. You just need one person wearing the dental dam, as if you use two it can rip holes in the dental dams. You can also use this when rubbing vulvas on any other body part. If you want to give or receive oral pleasure with an anus then you can also use a dental dam. This not only keeps you from spreading germs but if you’re a bit squeamish this can make everything a little bit cleaner.
The next form of sexual activity that can pass STDs is using the hands and fingers. There are some STDs that can be passed through skin contact with the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It’s best to use a glove with these sexual activities. Again, any time you switch from anus to vagina you need to switch gloves.
This might seem like a lot of work, but protection can be really sexy! I’ve seen some really erotic porn with the performers wearing gloves, condoms and using dental dams. It’s all about your attitude. Put the protection on in a sexy way and wear them with pride. You’re being safe and having fun!
Now, what if through all your protection or maybe an encounter where you didn’t use protection, you get an STD or STI? It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make you a slut or dirty. It doesn’t make you broken. All that it means is you need to get treated. Curable STDs, meaning they’re a bacterial infection, include Syphilis, Chanacroid, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Trichomoniasis. Pretty much all you need to treat these is a round of antibiotics and you’re good to go. Incurable STDs, viral STDs, include Herpes, HIV/AIDS, HPV, and Hepatitis B. All can be spread through intercourse or oral sex (either giving or receiving). Herpes (especially the HSV-1 strain) can be passed to other body parts besides the mouth or genitals, which is why it’s important to use gloves. The way that these STDs affect you has a lot to do with your immune system and general health. As long as you treat it you should be fine and it probably won’t be that big of a deal. It might still be annoying and uncomfortable but besides making little changes to your daily routine you’ll be okay. It can be difficult to treat it if you don’t have health care, so really that’s the only danger. Luckily strides are being made to make sure that treatment for STDs are easier to get. That’s one reason why sex education and other sexual political issues are so important. Through bad education and government, people with STDs can be mistreated and ostracized. They can be left without healthcare or hope. Always be thoughtful of that. Never make jokes about STDs (or any medical condition) and always be kind to those who have STDs.
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