In Honor of Condom month that recently passed in February, I wanted to share this excellent resource from the Society for Human Sexuality, Lesbian STD, and Super Dyke. Great resource when navigating safety around STIs. STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) are a common part of sexual health. We all have a responsibility in protecting ourselves. Get tested. Know your status, obtain treatment, and communicate your needs with your partner. STI care is a common part of sexuality. Proper self-care includes proper testing and treatment. Lets work together in breaking the stigma around infections obtained through sexual activity. STI’s should be just as normalized as obtaining a cold or flu. It happens, you take care of yourself, you work to prevent contamination to others, and you enjoy life.
STI prevention grid*
STI Prevention for Women**
STIs & AIDS: AIDS is caused by the HIV virus. HIV can be spread by four body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk. You cannot get infected unless the virus in one of these fluids reaches your bloodstream. Saliva alone cannot spread HIV. Safer sex, as it applies to HIV, is any type of sex which does not let one person’s blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk get inside another person’s body. These guidelines are useful in preventing transmission of other STIs as well.
- Wet Kissing: is safe unless either of you has a cut or sore in your mouth, or bleeding gums. (After you brush or floss your teeth, wait at least 1/2 hour before kissing.) Blood, not saliva, contains the virus.
- Touching your lover’s breasts is safe. You can lick, suck, kiss and bite them too-as long as there’s no blood or breast milk. Massage, dry kissing, masturbation (touching yourself), and body-to-body rubbing are all safe.
- Putting your fingers inside her can be risky. To be safe, wear latex gloves. If you use a lubricant, be sure it is water-based. (Oil-based lubricants like vaseline and hand lotion will damage the latex.)
- Sores or cuts on your fingers, mouth or vagina-or hers- increase the risk. They can provide a way for the virus to get inside you. If you touch her vagina and then touch your own (or vice-versa,) you could spread the virus. Be sure to use gloves in between!
- Contact with menstrual blood is very risky. If she is infected, her menstrual blood (like other blood) will have a lot of virus in it.
- Oral sex on a woman is risky, especially when she has her period. To make it safe, cover her vulva (genital area) with a piece of plastic wrap. This will keep her fluids out of your mouth. Latex dams-also called “dental dams” – are safe to use for oral sex too.
- Sex toys are safe by themselves, but it is risky to share them. If you share dildos or vibrators, cover them with a condom and put on a fresh one every time it is used by a different person.
- Getting pregnant can be risky. If you have sex with a man or have a man donate sperm to you, make sure he tests HIV negative at least 6 months after his last possible risk. (All licensed sperm banks test their donors carefully.)
- SM activities are safe if there is no blood involved. If you are piercing each other, clean the needle with bleach between users. Use different razors if you shave each other. Don’t let urine or feces of another person get inside your body.
- Use barriers 100% of the time, including with sex toys.
Some examples of safe sex include
- kissing—including French kissing
- fondling, touching, rubbing
- masturbating (alone or with your partner)
Touching the penis, vagina or anus isn’t normally risky. It is only risky if you have open cuts or sores that could allow any HIV-infected semen, vaginal fluids or blood to enter your bloodstream. There is no risk in the following:
- Masturbation (Touching Yourself)
- Vibrators or other sex toys (Not shared)
- Dry Kissing
- Body To Body Rubbing or “Tribadism” when fluids are not involved
Oral sex has some risk, but it is considered “low” risk because saliva doesn’t transmit HIV. But if you have any open cuts or sores in your mouth, infected semen or vaginal fluid could enter your bloodstream when you lick or suck a man’s penis or a woman’s vagina. There is some risk in the following:
- Shared hand, finger & genital contact with cuts or sores
- Cunnilingus (Oral or Tongue to genital contact) without a barrier
The lining of the vagina and the anus is delicate and thin. It breaks easily and invisibly. That’s why the riskiest types of sex are:
- Cunnilingus without a barrier during menstruation
- Female or male ejaculate in the mouth, vagina or anus (no condom)
- Rimming without a barrier
- Fisting without a barrier such as a glove
- Sharing sex toys without a barrier or without proper cleaning
- Sharing needles of any kind, i.e.: to shoot drugs, pierce or tattoo the skin
To have sex more safely
- Talk to your partner about safer sex before having sex.
- Use a latex condom for
- vaginal or anal intercourse,
- oral sex on a man,
- oral sex on a woman (place a condom cut open lengthwise or a dental dam over her vagina as a barrier), and
- sharing sex toys.
- Use lots of water-based lubricant. Don’t use Vaseline or oil-based products that weaken condoms.
- Try a female condom. They are
- polyurethane (not latex)
- inserted before sex