Part of a three-part series originally published to Tumblr on April 18, 2013.
While you can’t eliminate all risk when getting intimate with a partner, a comprehensive approach that includes prevention and communication can greatly reduce your likelihood of contracting an infection as I have. Taking these 4 comprehensive safer-sex steps not only reduces your risk but exudes responsibility, ownership, and empowerment.
1. Talk to your partner
Talk to your partner about safer sex before anything happens. These conversations should include questions like:
Have either of us—or any of our partners—ever had an STI? When? Did we get treated? Did it come back and/or were we re-tested after treatment? Have we been tested—if so, when, for which STIs, and have we had partners since?
How many sexual partners have we had in the last six months—what did we do to make sex safer? Have we been tested since?
What do we usually do to make sex safer and what do we plan to do when we engage in sexual activities with one another?
2. Get tested
Have full STI screenings and sexual health exams at least once a year and more often if you have new or multiple partners.
Before engaging in sexual activities with someone new, get tested together. If either of you had other partners recently, get tested again in 3 months to eliminate false negatives and use barriers until testing is complete.
Get tested before and after each new partner.
3.Use barriers consistently and correctly
When using a condom, place a drop or two of lube on the inside, and lots on the outside. LUBE is EVERYONE’s friend.
Never use more than one condom at a time.
When using a dam, place a drop or two of lube on the side facing the genitals.
When switching entry points (anal to vaginal, vice-a-versa, etc.) use a new condom.
Use condoms or barriers for oral sex as well as penetrative sex.
Do not use flavored condoms for anal or vaginal sex.
Only use water-based or silicon-based, sugar-free lube with condoms—no lotions, vaseline, oils, etc.
4. Consider your choices
Consider making safer lifestyle choices to reduce your risk. A few ways to do this:
Reduce the number of multiple partners (one after another or more than one at a time).
Limit/eliminate drugs and alcohol when engaging in sexual activities.
Be mutually exclusive with your partner.