Many people who have sex worry about STIs (sexually transmitted infections), pregnancy, or both.
Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to have safer sex! There are many kinds of protection for any type of body, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Some of the most popular methods are latex gloves, condoms, and birth control. You get to choose which safe sex options are right for you and your partners!
Most of the time when people say condoms, they mean the thin latex covering you can put over a penis or a dildo. These are sometimes called external condoms. Most are made of latex, but you can find other kinds of condoms and pick what works best for you.
Condoms are great protection for oral, vaginal, or anal sex. They make sex safer by keeping fluids from going from one person to another. This lowers the chances of pregnancy and STIs!
Condoms work best when you follow the right steps. These can make condoms feel better and lower the chances that they’ll break or slip off.
Keep in mind that condoms are also the only birth control that prevent STIs.
Some people worry that using a condom will ruin the mood. But with a little practice, using a condom can be fast, easy, and even sexy.
There are also internal condoms, which are sometimes called female condoms. These are nitrile plastic tubes that can go into a vagina or anus up to 8 hours before you have sex. Like external condoms, they lower the risks for both pregnancy and STIs. Some people also love how they feel!
Internal condoms are harder to find, but you can buy them at some sex shops and online. You can also ask your local pharmacist to order them.
Safer Oral Sex
Some STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes, can pass between private parts and the mouth or throat. Other STIs, like HIV and hepatitis C, can pass through the mouth if there are small cuts or swollen gums. Luckily, there are many ways to make oral sex safer.
For oral sex on a penis, you can use a condom. Some people use flavoured condoms or lube because they don’t like the taste of latex.
For oral sex on an anus or a vulva (the parts outside the vagina), you can use a dental dam. This is a rectangular piece of latex that you hold between a mouth and a vulva or anus. Like a condom, it keeps STIs from passing through.
Many kinds of birth control can lower someone’s risk for pregnancy. Options like the pill, the patch, the shot, and some IUDs use hormones to lower the risk. Others like condoms, diaphragms, and some IUDs keep sperm from reaching eggs. Anyone over 14 can get birth control in Quebec for about $20-60 a month, or sometimes free, without their parents knowing.
It can help to know that condoms are the only kind of birth control that also lower the risk for STIs. Because of this, many people use condoms together with other kinds of birth control. This also lowers the risk of pregnancy even more!
Most birth control options are made for people with a vagina. You can go to a clinic and get a prescription from a doctor or a nurse for many kinds of birth control. You can call 811 or search online to find a clinic near you. If you’re under 26, you can go to a youth clinic like Head and Hands near Vendome.
PrEP and Vaccines for Safer Sex
Even when you use condoms the right way and they don’t break or fall off, there’s still some risk for STIs. You can lower the risk for you and your partners by getting tested at least once a year if you’re not sure about your partners’ status. There are also a few times when it helps to get STI testing sooner.
Some STIs don’t show up in tests for up to 3 months after they get in the body. Because of this, it’s safer to get tested about 3 weeks after you had sex and again after 3 months.
Some people worry about what STI testing will be like. Doctors are trained not to judge and it doesn’t need to be scary! It can be like going to the dentist, just something you plan to do to make sure you stay healthy.