We still strongly encourage folks in that situation to start with safer sex for the first six months

We still strongly encourage folks in that situation to start with safer sex for the first six months

If you and a partner have been each other’s only partner for ANY kind of genital sex – not just intercourse — and neither you nor your partner have ever been sexually assaulted, your risks of STIs are likely very low: not none, but low. That’s not just about the fact that not everyone is truthful about their sexual history, it’s just a smart start. Very few people in the world will have only one sexual partner in a lifetime. We get that often a lot of young people feel certain their first partner will be their only partner, but that’s usually not how things work out in reality. Even if you and a partner are each other’s firsts now, you’re likely going to need to know how to practice safer sex for other partners later.

What else can you do to help prevent STIs? Stay as healthy as you can. When we’re in good health, our immune systems are powerful, and do their best job fighting off infection. So, things like eating well, getting enough rest and activity, and managing your stress matter, not just in general, but with sexually transmitted disease. If and when you’re not well, or have any kind of infection – an STI or something else, like a cold or flu – it’s best to focus on resting up and getting better, and setting sex aside until you’re well again. Having any kind of current infection or illness — including an STI – puts a person at a higher risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections. Not overdoing sex can also help: going at it over and over again in one session is tough on genitals, and can create tiny abrasions or fissures that make it easier for microorganisms to take root.

People don’t get STIs because they’re „dirty,“ but hygiene can count: washing up before sex can help reduce the risks of some infections

Another biggie is to avoid recreational drugs and alcohol with sex. When people are drunk or high – or even just tipsy – we tend to make different choices than we would otherwise. Not only is that a big issue with sexual consent, it also is with safer sex: when intoxicated, people much more often ditch or goof up safer sex. There are a lot of studies that back this up.

So, if you or a partner or potential partner are wasted, it’s much better to go to bed and go to sleep than to climb into bed for sex

Only choosing to have sex within healthy relationships – relationships free of abuse, control and manipulation – is another way to stay safe from STIs, as well as safe, period. Rates of STIs, much like rates of unintended pregnancy, are higher within abusive relationships, and abusive partners are often not open to negotiating sex, let alone sexual safety. In healthy relationships, partners are more likely to be honest about their sexual history, STI and testing status, and to earnestly care about you and your health. When you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you care less and less about yourself over time as part of the effects of abuse, so it gets harder to even feel motivated to stay safe and well.

Want help talking to a partner about barrier use, testing or sex in general? Check out Be a Blabbermouth! The Whats, Whys and Hows of Talking About Sex With a Partner. Feel like you just can’t have these talks? That can be a clear signal that you’re getting sexual with someone too fast. Gays Tryst alternative To check in about readiness, have a look here. If you seem to be as ready as ready gets and you still feel like you can’t assert yourself with safety, your relationship may not be a healthy one. You can give your relationship a checkup here.