Safe sex refers to measures taken (barrier contraception methods) during sexual contact to protect against STIs and prevent unplanned pregnancies. Sexual contact refers to intercourse but also semen & vaginal fluids exchange, wounds or open sores through oral sex & genital touching. Unsafe sex increases the risk of contracting STIs mainly due to not using the proper protection during sexual activity, not choosing partners carefully, and a lack of regular medical check-ups.
Since only some STIs have noticeable symptoms, it is essential to use protection. Hormonal contraceptives (pill, injection, vaginal ring, implants, and IUDs) only prevent pregnancy if used efficiently but not against STIs. The best method for STI prevention are barrier methods (condom, cervical cup, diaphragm, and dental dam)
All STIs infect genitals, but some can infect the mouth and throat. Condoms prevent STIs through penis-vagina sexual activity, such as herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. STIs such as herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV, and hepatitis B can spread through the mouth during oral sex. Therefore, condoms and dental dams are necessary. However, STIs such as herpes, HPV, genital warts, syphilis, pubic lice, and scabies can also spread through skin-to-skin contact or genital touching.
Practice safe sex by:
- Always use new condoms, diaphragms, cervical cups, and dental dams. Do not use it if it is past the expiry date, damaged when opening the packet, and do not reuse it. Condoms should be used from start to end, including foreplay, as pre-cum or genital fluids can also spread STIs.
- Limit the number of sexual partners or have a monogamous partner.
- Have regular medical check-ups for you and your partner/s.
- Avoid sex if you or your partner has rashes, sores, open wounds around the genitals, anus, and mouth, and if you or your partner has a throat infection.
- Avoid sex if intoxicated, as it can impair sound judgment and increase risky behavior.
Sex is among the most talked about topics, especially in teenage or adolescent circles. Young adults are increasingly facing pressure to have sex sooner. Many can feel more pressure if their friends already had sex and fear judgment or being outcasted for not practicing sexual activities. This leads some to participate in sexual activities to feel accepted by their peers but might regret their choices later in life. In addition, there are several movies where teens having sex is normalized, regardless of feeling ready or comfortable.
For young men, having sex is seen as a necessity, while for young women, it has contradictory views. On one end, losing your virginity early on might have your peers thinking you’re “grown-up or cool.” On another end, you’d also be considered “unclean or have low self-respect.” Young adults who don’t prioritize their health are at a higher risk of pregnancy and STIs.
Adults can also face sex pressure, such as coercion into sex, wanting to please their partner, and stress from expecting actual sex to be the same as in movies or porn. In addition, due to a lack of experience or raised expectations due to movies/porn, some people expect sex to be more than it is.
Whether you are an adult or teenager, you might be worried about what people think of you. This could impair your judgment and push you to risky behavior. You must listen to yourself and do what you feel most comfortable with. Putting yourself at risk of STIs or pregnancy will not increase your social status. It can worsen your mental, physical, and societal state. People gossip about anything and everything, so you might as well stick to your truth and a few trusted peers. The more confident you are with your identity, the less likely you will succumb to negative peer pressure.
Many of us understand what it means to consent to a particular activity, but not everyone knows what kinds of conditions invalidate it. For consent to be valid, the person giving the consent has to meet certain requirements like age, psychiatric, coerced, and sexual.
Age of consent refers to the legal age (usually 18) a person is considered capable of deciding or consenting on their own. This ranges from simple legal issues such as contracts or sexual activity. A minor cannot consent to legal issues but can have their parents or guardians approve on their behalf.
A person’s ability to consent depends on whether they are NOT mentally incapacitated, ill, or intellectually disabled. If someone can’t completely comprehend what’s required when signing a contract or consenting, then s/he cannot be legally capable of consent.
If a person consents but was coerced/intimidated into agreeing, it’s not consent. Coercion refers to threatening someone to perform an act even if the person doesn’t want to. Some examples of coercion include threatening to terminate employment, pressure with consequences, spreading rumors, guilting, and more.
Sex is something that should always and only be performed/done between two consensual, willing adults. Getting consent during sexual interactions is a MUST! You must stop immediately if the person initially agrees but changes their mind. For sexual consent, if an adult participates in sexual activity with a minor (younger than the legal age of consent), it cannot be considered consensual, and the adult can be charged with sexual abuse or statutory rape (sex with a minor). In some countries/cities, charges might not be filed if the age difference is close.
Consent is about setting & respecting boundaries and clarifying preferences to avoid misunderstandings. A person consenting one day does not mean they’ve consented for another day. People can change their minds after agreeing; the other person must respect this. Anyone can say no at any moment. It doesn’t matter if the other person isn’t happy with your answer. Silence doesn’t always mean acceptance. There needs to be an eager “yes” to move forward. Be clear with your answer, and don’t leave room for misinterpretation. Open communication is essential for a healthy relationship, while continuous medical testing ensures you & your partner/s safety.