7 Expert-Approved Tips for a Safer Sex Experience
There’s no such thing as “safe sex” because it’s impossible to eliminate all risks. But you can have safer sex. And if you embrace the idea of safer sex, you can also have better sex. And who doesn’t want that?
Here are a few expert-approved tips to keep in mind the next time you’re ready to get down and dirty with your partner.
Let’s be real. Most of us didn’t get anything that could be called good “sex education” when we were younger. With all the resources available by book, podcast, video, and on the internet in general, the time to educate yourself is now. According to Robert Thomas, licensed sex therapist and co-founder of Sextopedia, “Everyone should have general knowledge of sexuality before engaging in any kind of sexual activity with other people. Spend time reading about sexual development, orientation, identity, STI prevention, contraception, and more. This know-how will never go to waste and is very useful in assessing sex and its consequences before, not after, you have intercourse.”
Both good and safer sex require communication. While we often focus on discussing our needs and desires — and for good reason! — we also need to get better at talking about our sexual health with each other. “The safest practice in any sexual relationship is communication. Talk about testing and get tested before and after each new partner,” advises Jessie McKeon, Our Whole Lives comprehensive sex educator. “Make it normal and, even in a long-term monogamous relationship, an annual practice. Almost every municipality in the US has free and low-cost STI testing options, and that number is even higher in the UK and most of Europe.”
Use Barriers When Needed
Condoms come in all shapes and sizes these days, and they’re made for different sensations and needs. There’s no excuse not to wrap it up to have a safer sexual experience. Robert Thomas agrees. “A condom is your best buddy, and it’s so for both men and women. Engaging in vaginal, oral or anal sex should always include the use of condom for safer sex. Even if you engage in manual sex stimulation, like a handjob, consider using a condom. That is especially important when you have open sores on that part of the body.”
Keep Your Sex Toys Clean
We’re not the only one willing to lecture you about cleaning your sex toys. Yes, clean sex toys make for safer sexual experiences. “Actually wash your toys and sexual aids before and after using them. It may sound silly, and it may be the LAST thing you want to do when things are heating up or cooling down, but I have seen far too many UTIs and awkwardly located cases of dermatitis to let this one go. Wash your toys, wash your hands, wash your body. Make smart decisions,” says McKeon.
Pee After Sex
If you have a vagina, it’s likely you never heard this advice until after several urinary tract infections (and maybe your doctor still hasn’t told you!). But it’s also true for anyone having sex, yes, even if you have a penis. Urinating after sex helps prevent pain, doctor visits, and everything else a UTI causes. McKeon advises, “The best way to wash any urinary tract is to, well, urinate. And since you’re in the bathroom and all, wash those toys and sexual aids!”
Anal Sex Safety
While anal sex safety isn’t completely different than other types of sex and penetration, it does come with a few extra considerations to make it a safer experience for both partners.
“Hygiene is the first and utmost requirement for anal sex. Empty your bowels and take a warm shower before anal sex. This ensures you are clean down below and lets you focus on the penetration itself rather than worrying about whether there is any leakage or not,” advises Thomas.
“Anal sex is very intimate, so it is very important to have an open discussion with your partner what was pleasurable and what can be improved going forward. By taking this time, you’ll both learn more about your bodies and will deepen the connection between the two of you,” Thomas states.
Experiment with Sex
Don’t let the risks of sex make you afraid to try new things. If you’re taking precautions and communicating with your partner, you can open yourself to an entire world of sexy, kinky fun. “Try it!” advises McKeon. “Want to dress up like a French maid and do it on the couch? Go for it. Interested in getting tied up? Get some restraints and talk to your partner(s). Seriously, there are as many sexual preferences as there are humans. As long as you have open communication and consent and it doesn’t break the law… try it.”
Does it suck that we didn’t get some of this information before we started having sex? Yes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself, improve your sex life, and keep yourself and your partner safer from now on. And if you get better or kinkier sex because of it, that counts as a win.