A Safer Sex Guide for A Stress-Free Mind

Louis Catania, Patient Navigator, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

The lights are low, your playlist is on, and there’s nothing nagging at the back of your mind. Why? Because you’ve done everything you need to make sex safer for you and your partner.

Not sure how to do that? We’re here to help!

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes 😉

Consent is the name of the game, people. When it comes to sex, no one should be unsure or confused. Nothing’s sexier than yes (sometimes it’s even hotter with a please at the end 😊).

Some things to keep in mind:

  • 👍 It’s okay to change your mind: If you’re not feeling it, stop. ‘No’ is a complete sentence and can be said at any time. Even better, remind your partner that they can say no at any time, too. Communication is a two-way street.
  • ✅ Checking in can be fun: No, you’re not going to kill the mood if you ask ‘is this okay’? You might even discover a small switch-up in the activity that your partner likes more, increasing the pleasure for everyone.
  • 🧑‍🏫 There are times when someone cannot consent: This goes without saying, but if someone is underage, asleep, unconscious, clearly intoxicated, or otherwise not able to think straight, then that’s an automatic nope. No ifs or buts about it.

STIs are real, but also really easy to stay on top of

Super important: get regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The CDC has some helpful guidelines about STI testing. A good rule of thumb: go get tested, and/or ask your doctor about getting tested.

And we’re all about it! It makes it so much easier to have fun, stress-free sex if you know you’re completely healthy and good to go. ❤️‍🩹 It’s even better when your partner is on the same page. Nearly one million people get a curable STI every single day (keyword curable) and getting regularly tested means you can even stay ahead of the ones that aren’t. 🏃

It’s a win-win-win. 🎉

But wait, there’s more!

Beyond getting tested, there are a couple other things you can do before and after sex to make sex safer.

The obvious one is condoms. They help prevent pregnancy and STIs, have very few side effects, are easy to access, and should be pretty cheap. Someone doesn’t want to use a condom but you do? It’s okay to say no. ??

You can find free condoms at places like:

  • Planned Parenthood health centers
  • Your doctor's office
  • Family planning clinics
  • Local health departments
  • Community centers
  • College health centers

The pros of being PrEP-ared

To give everyone even more peace of mind, you should look into the medical wonders that are PrEP and doxy-PEP:

  • PrEP: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a medicine that prevents HIV when used appropriately, reducing the risk from sex by about 99%! It only works for HIV, so combine it with a condom to be even more protected.
  • Doxy-PEP: Think Doxycycline Post-Exposure Prophylaxis as a ‘morning-after pill’ for STIs. If you use Doxy-PEP between 24-72 hours after sex, then you can reduce the chance of getting STIs like syphilis and chlamydia by two thirds, which is incredible.

They’re just more tools to have in your belt.⚒️😉

Sexpositive sex is safer sex

Being sex-positive is about getting rid of useless shame and judgment. Ever heard the term abstinence-only? Yeah, that’s never worked. 🙄 It only leads to more STIs and overall, more negative feelings about sex.

So what does sex-positivity look like instead?

  • 💬 It’s about communication: Being sex-positive means feeling free to discuss sex and everything around it. Some people might only like a certain position or have an insecurity that they want to get off their chest. Others may even only want to do outercourse, which is a perfectly valid way to have sex that many people don’t know about (and we’ve talked about in more detail here).
  • 🤗 It’s about being kind: A good practice is to use sexual affirmations, like saying you adore your body, or deserve to feel pleasure during sex. That goes for how you talk to others, too.
  • 🙇 It’s about respect: People have different kinks, different likes, dislikes, and everything in-between. Something that someone else enjoys might not float your boat, and that’s ok—talk about it together!
  • 🤔 It’s about knowledge: Arm yourself to the teeth with knowledge about sexual health, how to prevent things like pregnancy, and anything else to do with sex. There’s nothing taboo about knowing your stuff.

Safer sex makes you confident

Consent brings confidence. Being comfortable in your body creates confidence. Knowing what protection you want to use displays confidence. You know best what you need, in order to feel happy and confident during sex. That’s what safer sex is all about. 🫡

We know you’ve got this, but sometimes all we need is a little support from a community. You can even start one. Why not be the sex positive person your friends go to for advice? Or join an online community like through the Positive Peers app to find other sexually positive, like-minded people? Support is out there, and you’re never alone.

Now go have fun! 🤗