You can reduce your chances of catching and/or transmitting an STI or STD by following the suggestions:

No Physical Contact

The best way to avoid catching an STD or STI and of preventing an unplanned pregnancy is by avoiding physical contact. This means that you and your partner practice only autoeroticism or masturbation. Solitary sexual activity is relatively safe. Masturbation, which is the simple act of stimulating one’s own genitalia, is safe so long as contact is not made with other people’s bodily fluids.

Other activities, such as “phone sex” and “cyber sex”, where partners can enjoy a sexual activity will prevent the possibility that bodily fluids will be exchanged.

Non-penetrative sex

There are a number of different sex acts which can be enjoyed between two consenting adults which carry a reduced risk of catching or transmitting an STD / STI and of causing pregnancy.

Non-penetrative acts can include such things as mutual masturbation, feeling or stimulating each other externally, kissing, hugging, massage, exhibitionism, and voyeurism. Whilst these acts do not generally lead to an exchange of bodily fluids, some deep kissing (French Kissing) can lead to an exchange of saliva and in the case of people with cuts, mouth ulcers, bleeding gums, or other oral conditions) and exchange of blood and infective bacteria and viruses. Also, it should be noted that some infections such as Herpes and Genital Warts can be transmitted and caught from skin to skin contact.

Protected Penetrative Sex

There are a number of devices which are available to help you to avoid coming into contact with blood, vaginal fluids, semen and other objects that can carry infections. Use of these devices is referred to as Protected Sex. Sometimes, use of these devices can also help to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It is important to remember that there are no devices which are guaranteed to prevent either catching or transmitting an STD or STI or which are guaranteed to prevent pregnancy.

These devices include:

  • Condoms which cover the penis during sexual activity.
  • Female condoms which are inserted into the woman’s vagina before sex.
  • Dental dams which cover the mouth and tongue when engaging in male on female oral sex, and when engaging in mouth to anus sex (rimming).
  • Gloves (made of latex, vinyl or nitrile) can be used to protect hands during sexual contact and stimulation including masturbation.
  • Sex toys including dildos, anal plugs and any other device which may either penetrate or be penetrated by either partner can be protected through washing before being used on another person or partner, and by the use of condoms which are changed before the device is used by another person or partner.

You also need to be aware that some lubricants, oils, and liquids that can be used during foreplay and sex can break down some of the materials that condoms are made from. By breaking down the condoms, the protective property of these devices is reduced and you may not enjoy the same level of protection that you thought you were.

Anal sex

Unprotected anal penetration is a very high risk activity whether performed on a man or a woman. Penetrative anal sex is a higher risk activity than vaginal sex as the skin around the anus and the thin tissues of the anus and rectum are delicate and easily torn or damaged. Very slight injuries which may not be visible can allow bacteria and viruses including the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to pass between those engaging in unprotected anal sex. It is also important to note that because the anus does not self lubricate condoms are more likely to break or tear during anal sex.

Anal sex and penetration is practiced by many heterosexual and homosexual couples. The anal area on both men and women had many nerve endings which contribute to the pleasure derived by many from anal sex. It is important to remember that anal sex carries a much higher risk of catching and transmitting an infection (STD / STI including HCV and HIV).

Anal sex will always be risky but to reduce that risk it is important to remember a few things:

  • Make sure the anal area is clean and the bowel is empty.
  • Make sure the person who’s anus is to be penetrated is able to relax.
  • If any pain occurs at any point, stop and withdraw the penetrating object from the persons anus.
  • Whatever is used to penetrate the anus (finger, penis, toy or other object) a condom is always the best method to reduce the risk of infection.
  • As the anus and rectum can be easily torn and damaged, the use of a water based lubricant is always recommended. Remember that oil based lubricants can often damage condoms.
  • If a man has performed anal sex on his partner, it is important that he washes and cleans well his penis before penetrating the vagina or mouth of his partner. Bacteria from the rectum are easily transferred to the partner causing infections.
  • Anal to oral contact is particularly risky and can transmit infections including STD’s, STI’s and Hepatitis A as well as other infections caused by other bacteria present in the bowel.
  • Anal sex should always be avoided by couples when one has been diagnosed with an STD or STI, until the treatment has been shown to have been fully effective.

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