How much do you know about Sexually Transmitted Diseases? If you think you know more about this issue than your parents and grandparents do, you might be right. But if you think, all it takes to practice safer sex is to use condoms, you’re indeed wrong. The best and safest way to avoid contracting STDs is to live a life of total celibacy. Of course, this isn’t possible unless you are a religious devotee. But that would be another story.
Today’s sexual practices have gone varied. What started as penile-vaginal intercourse for procreation has transformed into various sexual activities that enhance human pleasure. The sexual play has come to include oral sex, anal sex, and even masturbation.
Though these activities aren’t technically sexual intercourse per se, this doesn’t rule out the fact that any activity involving a person’s genitalia is sexual activity. And that despite the absence of intercourse, these activities do pose serious risks for STD contraction. Gynecologist Marsha Gorens explains the following facts surrounding STDs:
- If you’re a sexually active person and don’t practice safe sex, you’re at risk of contracting 25 different sexually transmitted diseases.
- If you’re an older adult, your chances of getting infected with STDs are higher. This is because most adults who went through a divorce and found new sexual partners no longer consider using condoms. Because they went past childbearing years, they believe they don’t need condoms anyway.
- STDs can compromise your ability to fertilize an egg.
- Condoms can’t give you a one hundred percent guarantee that you’d be free from STD like genital herpes, which is the most common form of STD. Herpes sores can be anywhere in the body other than the genitals. They can affect the skin in the buttocks or thighs and any contact with these affected areas can cause infection. Condoms protect only the penis and not the surface surrounding it. Additionally, you’re at risk of getting genital herpes infection when you receive oral sex from someone who has cold sores on the mouth.
- You may contract cancerous STDs in any sexual activity, whether it be oral, anal or masturbation. An example is a papillomavirus or HPV, which can lead to cervical, anal, throat, and penile cancers.
- You may see no signs or symptoms in people with herpes. Because not all people with herpes show symptoms of the disease like soreness, you may think they’re sexually healthy.
With all these facts at hand, your concern may fall on how to protect yourself from any harm caused by unsafe sexual activities. Don’t lose heart. The following tips are your best guides. If you follow them by heart, you’d be sexually healthy regardless of how many partners you may encounter in your sexually active years.
Best Practices to Protect Yourself Sexually
1. Prioritize safer sex
In all your sexual activities, makes sure you put your safety as a priority. This means you have to avoid sex without condoms. Condoms not only protect your partner from unwanted pregnancy but they also protect you from STD contraction.
2. Get regular tests
Because condoms can’t totally protect you from STDs, having regular tests helps you maintain your sexual health. Whether you feel you’re at risk or not, getting regular checkups gives you peace. Also, if you’re in a new relationship, you might consider encouraging your partner to have themselves tested. If this subject is a bit sensitive for them, offer that both of you will have the test. Assure them that it’s not a trust issue but an issue regarding your health and that both of you deserve to lead healthy sexual lives.
3. Communicate openly with your partner
Open communication is key to a healthy relationship. Let all your lines be open. It’s important to be open with your partner, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with an STD or if your partner has the infection. It’s best to avoid having intercourse when one of you is under medication. Once the treatment is over, you may agree to resume sex. Talking about your relationship status is equally important for the relationship and your sexual health. If both of you can agree on exclusivity, the better.
4. Be monogamous
Being in a monogamous relationship gives you more advantages, particularly in sexual health issues. You’ll decrease the likelihood of STD when you’re having sex with only one partner. Try to find a partner who shares the same view with you in terms of sexual health to reduce conflicts.
5. Set boundaries
At times, fooling around can be fun. Dating someone other than your partner can provide you with excitement. But before doing anything that you’re bound to regret later, you need to set your limits. You need to know your boundaries on how far you can go. There are moments when passion can paralyze your logical thinking. Before going further, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk.
6. Say no when you have to
You don’t have to have sex anytime it’s offered on the table. You don’t owe sex to anyone. You have the right to say no as much as they have the right to say no to you. Say no, especially if you don’t know the person fully well. Some people include in their bucket list the experience of having sex with a stranger. The thought is fun alright and not all strangers carry infectious diseases. But what if by chance you meet someone who has? Shake off the thought before you ruin yourself.
7. Avoid too much alcohol or drugs
Some pregnancies happen because two couples engage in sex after heavy drinking or drug sessions. While it’s easier to pull off when you get your partner pregnant, contracting STDs due to these bad habits can ruin the heck out of you. This will not only ruin your health or life but also your relationships.
The influence of drugs and too much alcohol can destroy your rational thinking. Before you know it, you’re having kinky time with someone you hardly knew. But you can avoid these things and protect yourself when you avoid these negative habits altogether.
8. Masturbate, if and when necessary
There are times when your sex hormones can freak you out. They become so wild you feel you need to have sex right then and there. When this happens, try not to grab anyone who is in for the play. Instead, try to please yourself through masturbation. There’s no safer sex partner around than yourself.