What do you think of when you hear the term safe sex? Most people picture a condom. Some assume that the only way to really be safe is to abstain from sex completely. And while using condom or abstaining from sex are good ways to avoid sexually transmitted infections, there are a few more things gay teens need to know about safe sex.
Image (c) Leo Reynolds
Safer sex refers to things we do to lower the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STD or STI) during sex. Most health professionals don't use the term "safe sex" because, aside from not having sex, nothing will provide 100% protection from infections.
Image (c) timobee
is considered a lower risk activity for STDs than are anal and vaginal sex. Even so, it is still possible to get an STD whether you are giving or getting oral sex
. So using a condom on a penis or a dam on a vulva or anus is a really good idea.
Image (c) Paige Foster
We all know how important it is to use a condom. Condoms offer really good protection from infections, including HIV. It is a good idea to use a condom any time you have anal, oral, or vaginal intercourse. Sometimes people think that condoms fail
because of some manufacturers defect, when in reality, what often happens is that they are just not used properly!
Image (c) glyde dam
Did you know you could get STDs from oral sex? You might have known this about blow jobs (fellatio), but what about other types of oral sex? The fact is you can. Luckily, you can reduce your risk by using a "dental" dam. Few people use actual dental dams any more, (there was a time when this was the only option) but the name has stuck. Dams can be used for oral genital contact on a vulva and for anal oral contact (technically called analingus).
Image (c) djwingsia
The word "celibate" means a person who abstains from sexual relations. Sometimes people use the word, "abstinent" in the same way, however, people can choose to abstain (or not participate) in a lot of different things. Celibacy, on the other hand, always refers to sex. But whatever you call it, not having a sexual relationship with another person, is a really way to keep yourself safe from STDs.
Image (c) wabberjocky
Here's something to think about: gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens who have low self esteem
are less likely to practice safe sex
than are those who feel good about themselves. You can know all there is to know about condoms and dams, but if you don't think you are worth protecting, it is less likely that you will require a partner to use these barriers.
Image (c) Kristin Brenemen
You know what is just as important to staying safe as using a condom? Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections! If you think you might have put yourself at risk for an STD, it is really important to get tested and if needed, treated as soon as possible. When you get tested you have a better sense of the risks you might be exposing a partner to. Many people get tested at a minimum every time they have a new partner. Others get tested every few months.