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What Is Safer Sex?

And how is it different from safe sex?

Safer sex is about protecting yourself and your partner from any unwanted risks during sexual activities. It most commonly refers to protecting yourself from the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. This definition can also be stretched to apply to other areas of sexuality, such as protection from unwanted pregnancies or unwanted harm from kink-involved activities.

Safer sex is really about having fun and experiencing pleasure while reducing the risks of any negative consequences. It's about exploring our bodies, relationships, and sex in a sex-positive way.

The Difference Between Safe Sex and Safer Sex

The terms "safe sex" and "safer sex" are interchangeable. There is no real difference in what the terms mean. So why have both?

The term "safe sex" was the first to originate when talking about minimizing risks of STI transfer. In recent years, as our understanding of practical life and our increased knowledge, we now know there is no way to completely take out all of the risks. We can reduce the risk dramatically, but never eliminate it completely.

Using the term "safer sex" acknowledges that there still may be a degree of risk, even if it's only 1%, that something could go wrong. A lot of safer sex methods are meant to minimize almost all the risks. Where risk enters the equation again is the human element. Not everyone will use the safer sex method in the recommended or most effective way. There are a lot of variables that can reduce the effectiveness and increase the risks.

Condoms & Barriers Make Sex Safer

Using protective barriers such as condoms and dental dams is one of the best ways to protect ourselves from sexually transmitted infections. These barriers keep bodily fluids from carrying any infections to the other person. It's important to note that certain STIs, like HPV or Herpes, can be passed through skin-to-skin contact without any bodily fluid.

Condoms and other barriers can reduce the risks but it's important that they are in good shape, not passed their expiry date, and used appropriately. Condoms that are old or have been subjected to heat or pressure, like staying in a wallet too long, can get weak spots. Weak spots can also be caused by nails scraping along the latex. Any weak spots can cause the condom to break during the friction generated during sex.

So an important piece of using condoms for safer sex is ensuring they are in good condition. You can also add a lubricant. Using water-based lubricants with condoms can not only serve to increase our pleasure, but also reduce the friction that can cause condoms to break. Although it's important only to use a water-based lube as any other lube type will disintegrate the latex.

Know Your STI Status

We can also practice safer sex by ensuring we know what our STI status is. You should be regularly checking your genital area for any irritation, sores, or anything unusual. If you do notice something out of the ordinary, don't hesitate to see your doctor. You can also set a schedule to get tested. Getting tested regularly can help us to quickly treat any infections we may contract. Many people don't show symptoms of an infection they have, so you may not know without getting tested. Following the instructions from our medical professionals will help us avoid any more serious consequences of the infection, as well as preventing us from passing it on to others. Knowing your STI status can be one of the most effective safer sex strategies. It ensures that you are looking out for your health and will be able to take all the appropriate steps to do what is necessary for your best interest.

It's everyone's responsibility to safeguard their own sexual health. Ideally, your partners will know what their status is as well. You can discuss it with your potential partner before any activities occur. If your potential partner doesn't know or is unwilling to discuss it with you, you can then make the choice on how you wish to proceed. You can choose to take a pass on sexual activity, use barriers, or to use some other methods for safer sex.

Other Safer Sex Methods

So what other kinds of things can we do aside from using protective barriers and knowing our STI status? We can also choose to engage in lower-risk activities such as mutual masturbation, or other activities that involve keeping clothes on such as grinding or making-out. Engaging in any kind of sexual activity where you are avoiding bodily fluids are not shared will help reduce your risks.

If you and your partner(s) use sex toys, ensure that all sex toys are properly cleaned and stored. You can also preserve the integrity and life of your toys by placing barriers on them. It's also a good idea that if you have multiple partners, that you use unique toys with each of them. Choosing to have multiple partners can up your risk of contracting an infection, so it's important you are taking the appropriate measures for the number of partners that you have.

Prioritize Your Health by Practicing Safer Sex

Part of taking control of your sexuality is taking steps to protect it. This includes protecting your sexual health. Share this article today and help spread some awareness in your circles. 

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