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Any good discussion on sex begins with at least a brief review of safe sex. Well, safer sex. Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Sexually Transmitted Infections (STDs/STIs) are an unfortunate reality of unprotected sex, and can sometimes be transmitted even when you think you’re being safe. Every act of intercourse—whether vaginal, anal, or even oral—should begin with a fresh, snuggly fitting, and properly worn condom. Make sure there is a reservoir at the tip, no air trapped inside, and it’s rolled all the way down to the base of the penis. A dental dam should be used for cunnilingus or anilingus. Fingers should be covered with latex gloves or finger gloves if there are open wounds on the hands/fingers. Gloves may also prevent bacterial infections or lacerations caused by jagged fingernails.
Only water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms; oils can weaken the latex. Lubrication is important for condoms as well as for yours and your partner’s comfort; if the condom is too dry and there’s too much friction, it’s more likely to break. If you or your partner has a latex allergy, don’t turn to lambskin condoms. They do not protect against STDs/STIs. Instead, consider other latex-free options such as polyurethane or polyisoprene. Internal condoms AKA “female condoms” are also latex-free and can be used in place of or in addition to an external, male condom. Internal condoms can be used for anal penetration as well. Condoms may not prevent STDs/STIs transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, such as HPV or herpes. They are designed more for the prevention of bodily fluids passing from one partner into the other.
Condoms, especially when used properly and with a spermicidal lubricant, are highly effective against preventing unwanted pregnancies, as well. Of course, there are other options out there for the purposes of birth control.
Another must-have discussion is consensual sex. Yes means yes. No means no. Consent, and what counts for consent, is a hot-button topic, and truth be told, it’s rarely so cut and dry. This doesn’t make it any less important, however. Although I wish to acknowledge the seriousness of sexual assault and rape, I don’t want to delve too deep into the topic in this article.
What I do want to talk about, in regard to consensual sex, is the beauty of it. Whether you’re having sex for the sake of having sex, because you’re in love with your partner, or because you want to make a baby, there is nothing wrong with doing the deed. So long as the act is between consenting adults, it’s a beautiful thing and you have nothing to be ashamed about. Society may attempt to degrade sex, especially if it isn’t between two married people, but it doesn’t mean you have to internalize that shame.
Sex is a natural thing, and it serves many purposes from reproduction, sating urges, to emotional bonding. It isn’t dirty or morally corrupt. It doesn’t make you bad or a weak person because you want to have sex nor because you choose to have sex.
Multiple Sexual Partners
Safe sex. Safe sex. Safe sex. The number one, most important thing to think about in regards to having multiple sexual partners is practicing safe sex. Your odds of contracting an STD/STI increases as the number of your partners increase, and if you contract an STD/STI, you risk spreading it around to every partner you come in contact with especially if you aren’t using safe sex practices.
Honesty is probably the second most important thing. I’m not saying you need to tell your partners exactly how many other people you’re sleeping with, how you’re doing it, how often you’re doing it, or any of that, but they should know they aren’t the only one. They have the right to make an informed decision on what level of risk they’re willing to accept. And, if you truly want to be sex-positive—as well as a decent human being—you don’t want to encourage a partner to believe they are the only one when they’re not, especially if this is a person you’re in an actual relationship with and emotions are involved.
Asking for What You Want Out of Sex
Whether it’s a particular position, a specific area that needs more attention, faster, slower, harder, softer, fantasy, toys, fetish, or kink, your partner won’t know if you don’t tell them. And yet, it can be awkward or uncomfortable at times to talk about what you want in the bedroom—maybe even especially when you’re right in the middle of it all. There’s a certain vulnerability that comes with telling your partner what you want. What if they think you’re a freak? What if they say no? What if they take it personally, like you don’t think they’re good enough?
But what if they don’t?
There’s a good chance they have specific things they want, too, but they’re busy asking themselves the same questions. Someone has to be the first one to be brave and take ownership of their desires. It might as well be you. Start small and ease into it if that’s easier, but most importantly, be kind with your words and be willing to hear your partner’s desires, too.