Safer Sex

Menstuff® has compiled information on the issue of Safer Sex.

Reason to Wear a Condom

Safer Sex

Is Safe Sex Really Safe?
Safer sex factsheets
I've sent my buck in. I hope you do too
Seize Sexual Safety Hazards - Poem

Related issues: Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, Abortion, AIDS, Bacterial Vaginosis, Blue Balls, Celibacy, Chancroid, Chlamydia, Condoms, Contraception, Contraception Effectiveness, Crabs, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, Impotency, Men & Abortion, Nongonococcal Urethritis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Reproduction, Safer Sex, STDS, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, Yeast Infection
Books: Communications, Conflict Resolution, Impotency, Intimacy, Relationships, Sexuality
Slide Guide: Guide to STDs

Safer Sex

What does "safer sex" mean?  It means being smart and staying healthy. It means showing love, concern and respect for your partner and yourself. Safer sex means enjoying sex to the fullest without transmitting, or acquiring, sexually related infections.

There are many sexually transmissible diseases. All of these are caused by microorganisms which travel from one person to another during particular sexual activities. On this web site we deal with the major infections related to sexual activity and suggest effective ways to reduce your risk for those diseases.

Safer sex goes not have to mean eliminating sexual passion and intimacy from your life. Safer sex means reducing the chance of becoming infected. For individuals who decide to engage in sexual intercourse, reducing the risk of infection means using latex barriers every time you have intercourse, anal sex, fellatio or cunnilingus.

What is safe?

If you do not have anal, oral or vaginal intercourse, and if you never share needles, you have almost no risk of infection. You can greatly reduce your chance of acquiring infection through sexual intercourse by knowing and practicing safer sex. Saliva, sweat, tears and urine do not transmit HIV, but semen, blood and vaginal/cervical secretions may. Sexual activities that include no direct contact with your partner's semen, blood, or vaginal/cervical secretions are safe. Activities that do involve direct contact are risky. Precautions that reduce the chance of direct contact with those fluids will make sex safer:

Talking: can make every other sexual activity safer. Talking helps you get to know your partner better, contributes to sexual please, and provides an opportunity to negotiate safer sexual practices. However, talking alone will not protect you from infection.

Fantasy: The brain creates images and finds words to arouse, delight and satisfy. Imagination and creativity add richness to sexual experience.

What is Risky?

  • Touching: Touching, caressing, and massage provide warm, affectionate, and safe intimacy. The imaginative use of loving fingers and hands can relax, soothe, or excite.
  • Masturbation. It is safe for semen or vaginal fluids to contact unbroken skin (without obvious open cuts or sores) through self-pleasuring or mutual masturbation.
  • Kissing. There is no evidence that kissing transmits HIV, though deep kissing may transmit other sexually transmissible diseases. Kissing or licking your partner's body (other than the genitals), will not spread HIV.
  • Oral Sex/Man: The risk of acquiring HIV by performing oral sex on a man (fellatio, "blow-job") seems very low but is uncertain. Since pre-ejaculatory fluid ("pre-cum) may contain HIV, stopping before ejaculation does not necessarily reduce the risk. Using a condom for oral sex further reduces the risk of transmitting HIV. The risk of your acquiring HIV by having fellatio performed on you is extremely low, if it exists at all. Some other sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and herpes, may be transmitted by oral sex on a male.
  • Oral Sex/Woman. The risk of acquiring HIV by performing oral sex on a woman (cunnilingus) seems very low but is also undcertain. Using a latex square, dental dam, or condom cut open lengthwise, as a barrier may reduce the risk further. Cunnilingus during menstruation may have more risk, but this is not known for sure. The risk of your acquiring HIV by having cunnilingus performed on you is extremely low, if it exists at all. Some other sexually transmissible diseases, such as gonorrhea and herpes, may be more easily transmitted during cunnilingus.
  • Oral-Anal Contact. The risk of transmitting HIV to either partner through oral-anal contact ("rimming") is uncertain but seems low. However, rimming may easily transmit other organisms. Using a latex square, dental dam, or condom cut open lengthwise as a barrier may further reduce the likelihood of transmitting HIV or other organisms during rimming.
  • Vaginal Intercourse. HIV may pass from man to woman or woman to man during vaginal intercourse without a condom. Unprotected vaginal intercourse is risky. Latex condoms greatly reduce the change of acquiring or transmitting HIV during vaginal intercourse.
  • Anal Intercourse. HIV may pass from man to man or man to woman during anal intercourse without a condom. Unprotected anal intercourse is risky. Latex condoms clearly reduce the change of acquiring or transmitting HIV. However, condoms are more likely to break during anal intercourse; using adequate amounts of water-based lubricants and being careful are especially important.


Lubricants are important because they reduce the chance that condoms will break during vaginal or anal intercourse. Remember: you can never use too much lubricant and always use water-based lubricants, like KY Jelly. Some lubricants (including contraceptive gels and form) contain nonoxynol-9, a spermicidal that provides additional protection against HIV. Oil-based lubricants may cause the latex in condoms to weaker and tear, so avoid any oil- or petroleum-based lubricant, lotion, or cream (such as Vaseline, hand and body moisturizers, booking oils, or shortening).

Drugs & Alcohol

Alcohol and other recreational drugs do not cause HIV infection or other sexually transmissible diseases. However, alcohol and drugs are often major factors wen people have unsafe sex. Safer sex is smart, health, sober sex. Safer sex takes some planning, thinking, and negotiating. Alcohol and drugs can impair your judgment, short-circuit your thinking, and limit your ability to communicate effectively. Alcohol and drugs may also make you clumsy and careless in using condoms and lubricants.

Alcohol and some other recreational drugs (including cocaine, marijuana, and "designer drugs") may damage the immune system itself - making you more susceptible to infectious diseases in general.

It's important to keep alcohol and drugs out of sexual experiences. Learning skills to do this is a key part of preparing for safer sex. If alcohol or drugs frequently seem to be a part of your sexual life, seek counseling so you can find ways to change this pattern. And if alcohol or drug have become problems for you, counseling can direct you to help.

Safer sex factsheets

Below is a list of safer sex factsheets available on this site, provided by the New Mexico AIDS InfoNet. Each factsheet contains valuable information about preventing STDs and HIV. Bookmark this page, as it will be updated regularly with new info and more factsheets about safer sex.

Factsheet 150 : Stopping the spread of HIV. How HIV infection is transmitted and how you can protect yourself and others from HIV infection.

Factsheet 151 : Safer sex guidelines. How to reduce the risk of HIV infection during sexual activity.

Factsheet 152 : How risky is it? A discussion of the risk of transmitting HIV through various types of sexual activity. Factors that increase the risk of transmission.

Factsheet 153 : Condoms. Discussion of the use of condoms for HIV prevention, including the female condom and the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Condom myths and realities.

Factsheet 154 : Drug use and HIV. Drug use and transmission of HIV through unsafe sex and shared equipment. Drug interactions and needle exchange.

Factsheet 156 v: Post-exposure prophylaxis. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is treatment after exposure to HIV. It is intended to prevent HIV infection. PEP is available for workplace exposure to HIV and is being studied for nonoccupational exposures.

Is Signing an Abstinence Pledge a Guarantee of no STDs

This is a tricky question. Statistics show that those who sign a pledge actually have a higher STD rate than those who don't. The problem arises in two areas.

1. Too often individuals who sign the pledge have the best intentions so they don't learn any more about safe sex.

2. Many of these people break the pledge in the heat of the moment and are unknowledgable or unprepared to protect themselves and acquire an STD in many of these circumstances.

We support those who choose to sign a pledge of abstinence. We don't support programs, however, that want to keep them in the dark about sex, safe sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. The odds just aren't that good.

Don't Own More than 6 Condoms in Texas - and it Gets Worse

Under Texas law, if you sell or own six items that are used to stimulate the human genitalia, you're guilty of breaking a 25-year-old state obscenity law that prohibits selling a device used "primarily for stimulation of the human genital organs." This law includes condoms, so forget about a six-pack. What ever happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? And, the state of Texas is actually using undercover cops to arrest people. If convicted, a person could go to jail for up to a year and be fined up to $4,000.

And, Texas isn't the only state to carry this kind of law on its books. Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Georgia also prohibit the sale of devices primarily used to stimulate the genitals. Kansas and Louisiana, like Texas, go so far as to specifically ban the sale of dildos and artificial vaginas. Other states, like Indiana, prohibit the sale of obscene devices. But their laws are vague, not specifying devices used for sexual purposes, which allows each community's standards to define what exactly is considered obscene.

Recent cases that challenged the constitutionality of these laws in Louisiana and Alabama could offer some hope. The Louisiana State Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional in 2000 (citing the statue's lack of exemptions), but the law remains on the books, relatively untouched. And, in 2002, a Federal District Court in Alabama ruled that the state's ban was unconstitutional because it violated "users' fundamental right to employ sexual devices within their private, adult, consensual, sexual relationships."
Source: Bust magazine, Summer, 04

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