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conversation: safe sex tips

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It’s time to talk safe sex – regardless of the number of partners you’ve had, conversations about safe sex are vital to sustaining any relationship involving sex.

“Work toward being able to talk more candidly about sex and sexual health with friends and partners,” says contributors for Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS), a nonprofit organization for women’s reproductive health and sexuality. “It’s easier to be safe when you don’t feel ashamed.”

The organization also recommends practicing safe sex conversations by brainstorming among friends and finding ways to integrate safe sex activities into sex itself, like putting on male or female condoms together.  

The contributors assure that practicing safe sex in these ways may not be comfortable at first. “Many of us were taught that talking about sex isn’t romantic or that nice girls don’t. But we can, and we do — and it gets easier with practice,” they wrote.

Getting tested for STIs is also a vital component of safe sex, according to the Options for Sexual Health organization, a nonprofit provider of sexual health services. “Getting tested and treated for STIs regularly will help you to reduce the risk of transmitting STIs to others,” they wrote.

The organization recommends asking your partner the last time they got tested for STIs, if they believe they have symptoms, or if they have had unprotected sex.

According Mackenzie Darling, Project SHAPE’s Student Assistant, “The most important thing for protecting yourself is to actually use protection.” She suggests barrier methods such as external condoms, dental dams, and vaginal condoms as they protect against pregnancy and STIs. Project SHAPE (Sexual Health and Peer Education) is an organization on the University at Albany campus that devotes itself to spreading educational information about safe sex. Darling also suggests being tested for STIs at the health center or the local Planned Parenthood.   

Options for Sexual Health also recommends using condoms during intercourse to avoid transmitting herpes and HPV, as well as they warn against using oil-based lubes with condoms because the oil will cause the latex to dissolve and the condom may break. They recommend water-based lubes as an alternative.

Having proper knowledge of safe sex also includes dispelling popular myths about sex, such as the myth that women can’t get pregnant during their period. “It’s true that this scenario is highly unlikely, but even so, the possibility of pregnancy isn’t fully eliminated,” Maria Cohut from Medical News Today said.

It depends on how long the menstrual cycle lasts. Also, sperm can live inside the body for up to five days, so under the right circumstances, pregnancy is possible, according to Cohut.

The Sexual Education Resource Center dispels the myth that men are always willing and ready to have sex. Even men who love sex aren’t always in the mood and don’t want to get into the mood, for various reasons, according to SERC.

“Lack of interest in sex is actually very common among both men and women,” says SERC. “Yet while we have come to accept that women have a right to say ‘no’ to sex, we sometimes deny men this same right by expecting them to be ‘sex machines.’ They’re not.”

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