A Beginner's Guide to Safer Sex: Practices, Products, & Tips
Whether you’ve been having sex for years or are new to the game, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to brush up on safer sex practices & remind yourself and your partner(s) of ways you can keep yourselves safe. Today we’re talking all about how to have safer sex (both penetrative & oral) in order to avoid STI’s so that you can enjoy a fun, healthy, and well-protected sex life!
Note that this blog post will NOT be talking about practices for preventing pregnancy. Some of the tips may overlap and help protect you against both STI’s and pregnancy, but that’s not the focus – it’s all about STI’s (well, no STI’s) today!
No matter your age, gender, preferences, or sexual experience, these safer sex practices, tips, & products will undoubtedly benefit you, your health, and your sex life. Let’s get into it!
Why “Safer Sex” And Not “Safe Sex?”
First off, you might be wondering why we’re using the term “safer sex” instead of just “safe sex.” This is because the goal of having safer sex is to lower the risk that comes with having any type of sex, rather than trying to have a 100% safe sex life. As much as we wish it weren’t the case, no type of sex can be completely, fully safe, and that’s just a fact you have to accept if you’ve chosen to be sexually active!
The Goal of Safer Sex & Why It’s Important
Now why are we even talking about safer sex? Why does it matter?
The goal of safer sex is to reduce the risk of STI’s, or sexually transmitted infections, for all parties involved. STI’s are passed between sexually active partners via shared sexual fluids. These fluids can be shared during pretty much any type of sexual activity, including oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex – meaning the risk of STI’s is unfortunately ever-present. Even genital skin-to-skin contact can lead to STI’s if either you or your partner’s genitals have sexual fluids on them that are passed between the two of you.
The goal of safer sex is to minimize the risk of STI’s as much as possible, because luckily – there are many ways to do so! Having a safer sex life will help you and your partner(s) enjoy sex more because you know that you’ve prepared well, you’re protected, and you’ve done as much as you can to lower the risk of getting STI’s when sharing sexual fluids.
Misconceptions About Having Safer Sex
Oral sex is safer than penetrative sex
While we looove ourselves some good oral, it’s unfortunately just as risky as penetrative sex when it comes to STI’s. Because oral sex involves your mouth coming into contact with a partner’s genitals, chances are high that you’ll be licking, touching, or even ingesting their sexual fluids. No matter what your preferences are when it comes to oral sex, it’s an easy way to pass along sexual fluids through contact with genitals, and therefore should be met with precaution just as penetrative sex is! A little later in this blog post, we’ll tell you all about the different ways to make oral sex safer.
It’s safe to use a condom more than once
This is a huge no-no, whether you’re using condoms with the goal of preventing pregnancy, protecting against STI’s, or both! Condom effectiveness for protecting against STI’s is significantly lowered if you’re using the same condom more than once, as it’s more likely to break and leave space for the penis owner’s ejaculate to come in contact with the receiving partner’s genitals. If you feel your condom break at any point during penetrative sex, you should stop and replace it with a new one!
Fun (well, not-so-fun) fact: oil-based lubes can actually weaken latex, leading to a higher risk of breakage. Opt for water-based lubes instead and avoid using oil-based lubes with latex condoms or barriers!
Read more about the effectiveness & correct usage of condoms in this article by the Center for Disease Prevention.
STI’s can’t be passed via sex toys
Another way sexual fluids can be shared between partners in a little bit more of a sneaky way is via sex toys. This is one you might not think about immediately when it comes to practicing safer sex, because you’re not directly sharing fluids from one person to another; rather, the fluids left on your sex toys are potentially being passed to any other partners who use the same sex toy. Some STI’s do die once the fluid dries, but some can live for weeks or months – meaning they can sometimes live on your sex toys. It’s important to clean your sex toys thoroughly between uses, and especially if you’re using them with different partners, or use different toys with different partners!
Here’s a great article by Healthline that dives deeper into sex toys & STI’s!
There are zero risk-free ways to be intimate with your partner
This one might be a little counterintuitive to what we’ve been saying – no, there is no way to have completely, 100% safe sex with a partner. HOWEVER: there are ways to experience pleasure and intimacy without the risk of STI’s, including masturbating (mutual masturbation for the win🔥), dry humping with clothes on, and touching a partner’s genitals without getting any of their sexual fluids on your own genitals or your mouth. So go forth and masturbate, dry hump, or do some old-fashioned touchin’ & enjoy fun, safe sexy time!
You don’t need to get tested if you’re only having sex with one partner
Finally, while it is safest to be in a monogamous relationship & only have sex with one partner who doesn’t have STI’s, you should still get tested at the beginning of your sexual relationship to make sure you’re both safe.
Safer Sex Practices for Beginners
Now that you have a better understanding of what safer sex is, why it matters, and what’s NOT true about safer sex, here are some of the best ways you can implement safer sex practices into your sex life!
1. Use external or internal condoms during penetrative sex
First and foremost, always use external or internal condoms during vaginal or anal sex! Since penetrative sex is the riskiest type of sex when it comes to the possibility of STI’s, it’s imperative that you use external or internal condoms as a barrier to prevent sharing sexual fluids. Trust us – there are PLENTY of types of condoms out there, so we know you can find some that still allow you and your partner to feel good and experience pleasurable sex. We sell plenty of external condoms both online & in-store here at WinkWink, and you can often get external condoms at your local Planned Parenthood, so there are no excuses! Internal condoms are a bit harder to find & are usually more expensive, so external condoms will be your best bet.
2. Use dental dams/barriers, Lorals, or condoms during oral sex
YES, there are ways to make oral sex safer – and still keep it as enjoyable as possible! You’ve got two main options: dental dams & Lorals.
Dental dams/dental barriers are latex or polyurethane sheets that you place between the giving partner’s mouth & the receiving partner’s genitals (either the vagina or anus). Dental dams are a great way to make oral sex safer in a super easy way, as you can purchase them easily and they’re not crazy expensive – AND they don’t take away from the receiving partner’s pleasure. Just as with external condoms, you’ll want to make sure that there are no tears/holes in the dam, you don’t reuse the same dam more than once, and you only use water-based or silicone-based lube. Be careful not to stretch them out too much, either, as this can weaken them and cause them to break.
You can buy dental dams in-store or online at WinkWink for around $2 a piece!
If you’d rather not fumble around with a dental dam every time you want to have protected oral sex, then Lorals for Protection are a fantastic option! Lorals for Protection, by the Lorals brand, operate the same way as dental dams in that they provide a thin barrier between the mouth & the genitals, except they’re in the form of super stretchy, silky, latex panties instead! Aside from helping lower the risk of STI’s, They’re also an amazing option for people who might not want to have skin-to-skin sex, or aren’t comfortable showcasing everything, but still want to enjoy the pleasures & intimacy of oral sex.
Note that the brand’s Lorals for Pleasure are meant to simply create a layer between the mouth & genitals to provide coverage to the vulva or anus, while Lorals for Protection are the version that is cleared by the U.S. FDA for use as a barrier during oral sex. You’ll want to get Lorals for Protection if you’re using them with the intent of lowering your risk of STI’s!
Lorals are single-use, just like a condom – so use ‘em, then toss ‘em! We sell Lorals for Pleasure here at WinkWink, which are great for period sex, pleasure play with snapping/spanking, and minimizing sensory issues, trauma-related triggers, and body dysmorphia.
3. Get tested for STI’s frequently
If you’re having sex with multiple partners, it’s important to get tested for STI’s frequently. You can find out how often you should get tested using these CDC guidelines, or visit your local Planned Parenthood!
4. Clean your sex toys thoroughly
Like we mentioned already, it’s incredibly important to clean your sex toys between uses and between use with different partners. Alternatively, if you have sex with the same partners on a regular basis, you could have separate toys you use with each of them for maximum protection! This article by BedBible walks you through how to correctly clean & store your sex toys.
5. Wash your hands before & after sexual contact
Just as it’s important to clean your sex toys, it’s important to clean YOURSELF, too! Anytime you touch a partner’s genitals with your hands, you should wash your hands before touching your own genitals, mouth, or eyes.
6. Enjoy outercourse
Last but definitely not least, make the most of outercourse! Foreplay over clothes (e.g. dry humping or simply touching over your partner’s clothes) can be so fun and a great way to lead up to other types of sex. And because it’s the safest type of sex & doesn’t involve you touching a partner’s sexual fluids, you can enjoy it risk-free!
We hope that this article helped you understand more about what safer sex is & why it’s important, and that it’ll help you have safer, more enjoyable sex with as much protection against STI’s as possible! Cheers to having the most stress-free sex possible and caring enough about yourself & your partners’ health to put these tips into practice whenever you have sex🔥
Looking for more tips & resources like this to help you have a more enjoyable sex life? Check out a few of our recent blog posts below!