In 2015, it was estimated that over 100,000 people in the UK were living with HIV, and from this population, 13% didn’t know of their infection status, with an incredible 42% being diagnosed later than they should have been. To commemorate World AIDS Day, this article will take you through the easiest ways that you can protect yourself during sex, no matter what your relationship status.
Use a Condom
Let’s start with the basics. Condoms are an incredibly effective way of protecting yourself and your partner during sex. When used correctly every time you have sex, a condom is estimated to be 98% effective. Condoms are excellent value for money, with numerous different assortments on the market. From variety boxes and larger sizes for the well-endowed, to intimate feeling and flavoured condoms, there’s a product available that’s perfect for the sensation you want to achieve.
To ensure as pleasurable an experience as possible, a water-based lube should be used in conjunction with a condom. Remember that oil-based products like moisturisers, lotions and Vaseline, while safe to use with polyurethane condoms, can damage latex condoms.
Get Yourself Tested
You know the saying; "prevention is better than the cure". But if you’ve fallen foul of this, it’s reassuring to know there are cures available for the vast majority of sexually transmitted diseases. The NHS is an incredible service here in the UK that not only provides life-saving care, but also the support to keep yourself sexually safe. There are clinics dotted across the country that are primed and ready to test both men and women for HIV/AIDS and other STIs.
Testing can be as simple as making an appointment – or even just turning up if it’s a local walk-in centre – and choosing which tests you would like to have. There’s no need to be embarrassed, as every member of staff is trained to be sensitive and discreet. Assessments may include a urine sample, a blood sample, an examination and/or swabs of your genitals depending on the STI you’re testing for. After that, it’s as simple as waiting for your results, which usually takes around a week or two.
Use a Dental Dam During Oral Sex
Safe sex shouldn’t only be a consideration when engaging in penetrative sex. Infections can also be passed via the mouth, and one way of avoiding this risk is by using dental dams. Dental dams are flat sheets of either latex or polyurethane that are sandwiched between the mouth and vagina or anus, and act as a barrier to stop infections crossing between those performing and receiving oral sex.
It’s important to follow the instructions when using a dental dam so as not to reduce the product’s effectiveness. You should never reuse a dam, and make sure not to handle one too roughly as, much like a condom, they will split if put under too much pressure.
It’s probably hard to believe, but using lubricants in conjunction with condoms can help make sex a whole lot safer. These products can top up natural levels of lubrication in the body and reduce the chances of small tears, caused by friction, forming on the skin. Many sexually transmitted diseases can be transferred from person to person via tiny breaks in the skin, so having a water-based flavoured lube can not only increase pleasure, but also limit the risk of contracting an STD.
Durex has more than 80 years’ experience in the industry, so you can be confident that all our lubes and condoms have been manufactured to the highest possible standards with quality raw materials. It’s incredibly important to use the correct type of lubricant, as anything like soaps, foods and moisturisers haven’t been formulated for use in the vagina or anus and could lead to thrush or other uncomfortable infections.
There is also the possibility that something not meant to be used as lube could have a detrimental effect on any contraception you are using. Petroleum jelly for example could degrade a condom over time and make it much less effective at protecting you from unwanted pregnancy and STIs.
Get Touchy Feely
Sex doesn’t have to be limited to intercourse. In fact, pleasure can be derived from simply using your powers of touch. Using your hands to pleasure your partner is a safe and sensual way to achieve climax for both men and women. To create the ultimate night of passion, couple your erotic touching with a nonsexual massage using an intimate massage gel.
This is ideal for those who don’t want to commit to, or aren’t ready for intercourse and are concerned about safe sex. Reducing the number of people contracting sexually transmitted diseases remains a challenge, both in the UK and globally, but following these easy steps should help reduce the chances of you ever having to worry about visiting a sexual health clinic.
Testing can be as simple as making an appointment – or even just turning up if it's a local walk-in centre – and choosing which tests you would like to have.
In the heat of the moment, it's easy to forget about protecting yourself but following these simple steps should protect you from an unwanted surprises.