‘Safer sex’ usually refers to having sex to reduce risks of catching an STI. Sex should be an enjoyable activity, but it can still put you at risk in several ways.
As sex involves being intimate with another person, it may allow infections to pass from one person to another. Other risks to think about include pregnancy, emotional consequences and legal issues.
‘Safer sex’ guidelines are there to help as sex can never be completely without any risk at all. However, taking a few sensible precautions can reduce the risks greatly.
The most commonly used barrier method is the male condom. Other options are female condoms and dental dams. A dental dam is a sheet of latex (or similar material) used during oral sex to help stop STIs being spread.
Condoms have been shown to reduce the risk of passing on STIs such as:
HIV and AIDS
They are not completely guaranteed to prevent any risk but they do greatly reduce the risk. Latex condoms are the most effective but for those who are sensitive or allergic to latex, condoms made of polyurethane are also available and will help to reduce the risk of picking up an STI.
At ECHO, we offer free condoms. They are also available in some GP surgeries. Condoms can also be bought from pharmacies. Consider always having a condom with you ‘just in case’.
The use of drugs or alcohol can also result in unsafe sex. For example: