Prism Blog, Sexual Wellness

You Thought You Already Knew Everything About Safe Sex

(Note: this post contains mature information. If you are under 18, please leave this site and visit

We’ve all heard about safe sex, right? “Use condoms”. That’s about where the story ends, especially when the person talking has little knowledge of any kind of sex other than PVI (penis-vagina intercourse). Even at queer events where there are “safe sex supplies” provided, often only condoms and lube are available. Rarely dental dams are provided, and almost never gloves, especially not with information about when or how to use them. It’s important to know the potential risks of the kinds of sex that you’re having, so that you can make educated decisions about what kinds of barriers you want to use -which may vary with each partner or for specific activities.

General Safe sex tips:

  • Get regular STI check ups (every 3-12 months, depending on whether you have high risk sex).
  • Especially if you’re not using barriers:
    • Regularly trim and file your nails; check your hands, mouth, and genitals for cuts and sores; and wash your hands before and after each sex activity.
    • Don’t floss or brush your teeth 30 minutes before giving oral sex without a condom/dental dam (2 hours if you’re a smoker, since it takes longer for wounds in smokers’ mouths to heal). If you’re concerned about bad breath, you can use a mouthwash which also helps to kill bacteria in your mouth.
    • Wash your anus thoroughly with soap and water before rimming. If you do douche, use warm water only; chemical products can  increase your risk for STIs.
    • Pee after sex; this can flush bacteria and viruses out of your urethra.
  • Use barriers! This is the easiest way to prevent STI transmission. Using barriers can be awkward at first if you or your partner aren’t familiar with them, but they quickly become comfortable and even sexy!

No-to-low risk sex: masturbation or mutual masturbation (you each touch yourselves not each other), “dry” humping/fucking (pressing your genitals against someone else through clothes), or against someones (clean) leg, chest, or other area where fluids are not present.

For other types of sex, here is a clear list of what you can get or transmit (check out this guide for trans men too):

  • Oral sex with penis/external genitals: chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV, syphilis.
    • Use condoms, dental dams (or a condom cut open), or saran wrap (not the microwaveable kind) to prevent transmission.
  • Oral sex with vulva/innie: herpes; also HPV possible but unlikely.
    • Use dental dams, saran wrap (not the microwaveable kind), or a condom cut open to prevent transmission.
  • Anal sex: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hep b & c, herpes, HPV, syphilis, craps, HIV.
    • use condoms to prevent transmission. “female” condoms are especially effective because they cover part of the external area too. they are easier to use anally if you remove the inner ring before insertion.
  • Intercourse/PVI: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hep b & c, herpes, HPV, syphilis, crabs, HIV, trichomoniasis, yeast infections, BV.
    • Use condoms to prevent transmission. “female” condoms are especially effective because they cover part of the external area too (note: they can’t be used with nuva ring, cervical caps, or diaphragms).
  • Other genital-genital contact, sharing used toys, sharing hands (between multiple partners or between masturbation and touching partners genitals): chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV, syphilis, crabs, trichomoniasis, yeast infections, BV; HIV and Hep B & C possible but unlikely.
    • Use condoms on toys. Use dental dams, saran wrap or condoms during genital-genital contact. Use gloves when sharing hands from one person to another.
  • Oral-anal sex/rimming: amebiasis, cryptosporidium, giardia, hep a, shigella, herpes, possibly hpv (unkown).
    • Use dental dams, saran wrap (not the microwaveable kind), or a cut open condom to prevent transmission.
  • Fingering and fisting: low risk, however you can transmit HPV and herpes, especially if you have cuts on your hands or if your fingernails scratch the vaginal walls
    • Use gloves, especially if you have cuts on your hands. If you choose not to use gloves, wash hands with warm water and soap immediately afterwards.

Remember that the “receptive” partner during anal or vaginal intercourse is more likely to contract STIs. You can have an STI and not know it, and infections can be spread when no symptoms are present. Talk to your partner(s) about STI status, the kinds of sex you want to have, and the kinds of barriers you want to use for each activity. It can be uncomfortable at first, but once you get used to it, talking about sex before you have it is sexy! I recommend this video on the “other ” Safe Sex conversation: communication around sexpectations.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

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