For most people, learning about safer and better sex – the kind that involves communication, consent, trust, and yes, even adult toys – came long after they began having sex. Most people think of birth control and condoms when they think about safe sex — and not much else.
To have safe and good sex, you need more than a condom over a penis. And sometimes, to be safe, you need a different kind of condom. Check out a few other things that make sex safer for everyone involved.
Using Dental Dams
Let’s start off this conversation with one last mention about the obvious – condoms. But these aren’t condoms anyone rolled on a banana when you were in school. Dental dams are a barrier method used for oral contact. Place it over the labia or anus, hold it in place with your hands, and let your tongue go to town.
When used correctly, it protects you from the same transmission of a sexually transmitted disease that a regular condom can. If you place a little lube on the receiving end – their anus or labia – before licking, they may get more sensation from it. Of course, if you want to use a flavored lube on the side you’re licking, you can always do that, too. It’s a good idea to use if neither you nor your partner has been tested recently or if you know that you or your partner have an STD.
Getting Rid of Stigmas
There are so many stigmas around sex that it’s hard to keep up. Old people don’t have sex. People with disabilities don’t have sex. People with mental illnesses don’t have sex. When we’re not being told certain types of people don’t have sex, we’re lead to believe they shouldn’t or don’t want to have sex. And that’s just the stigmas about some marginalized groups (but definitely not all of them). Note: It’s all patently untrue – people from all walks of life want sex.
And then there’s the good old fashioned stigma that people should only have one kind of sex – penis-in-vagina sex. Which, of course, begs the question about people who don’t have either a penis or a vagina — are they not having sex? The false things we tell ourselves and believe about sex can be extremely dangerous to how we approach sex. When we come at it from a place of ignorance, we can make decisions that put us in danger. Note: Of course these aren’t all the stigmas about sex. But all stigmas are dangerous.
While unwanted pregnancy and disease are safety concerns in sexual activity, that’s not the only concern. The one danger that affects every single person who has sex is a lack of consent or understanding what consent is and how to know you have it. Don’t believe us? Ask the person who had their consent violated how “safe” they feel.
What do people need to know about consent?
- You need to get enthusiastic and informed consent – your partner should be happy about it and know what’s going to happen.
- “No” is a full sentence.
- If you don’t know if you got consent, then you didn’t. Ask again or stop completely.
- When someone says “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know” that’s not permission to move forward at full speed. Stop.
Making Sure This is What You Really Want
How many of us have thrown ourselves head long into relationships, one night stands, and Netflix and chill because we didn’t know what else to do? Being bored, lonely, or unsure are all reasons for making less than great decisions about your sex life. You’re not a bad person if you find yourself in this situation, but it’s worth asking yourself, “Is this what I really want?”
If you want sex with a stranger, sex with friends, sex with multiple people, kinky sex, random sex, hook-up sex, whatever kind of sex gets you off, then go for it. Stay safe and make sure you have consent, but do what feels good. But if you’re constantly asking yourself, “Why did I just do that?” maybe it’s time to rethink things. Your emotional well-being is worth protecting, too. If it means you’re alone instead of having sex you hate or wish you hadn’t agreed to, that’s not the worst thing ever.
What sex education you had (if any) might have prepared you for some dangers associated with sex. It didn’t prepare you well, but if you walked away knowing about birth control and condoms, it’s better than nothing. But there’s much more to being safe than slipping some latex over a penis and getting busy. If we all had a healthier understanding of sex, think of how much safer we’d all be.