Safer Sex

safer sexKnow the risks

It is always important to be aware of possible Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs), such as HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea or Chlamydia.  You should make sure that you know the risks of various activities, and, if necessary, use the appropriate form of protection.  Many people think that safer sex is not an issue if they only have one sexual partner.  More than half of all people have sex with someone outside their relationship at some point, without telling their partner, so you may still be at  risk without knowing it.  It is estimated that one million people are infected with STIs around the world every day.

This is not just an issue for young people

Most safe sex advertising is aimed at young people, with little advice or guidance targeted at older age groups.   However, cases of STI’s  in the 50-plus age group have doubled in the last 10 years as this group is increasingly back on the dating scene and having more sex, perhaps  after experiencing divorce. Many older people can find themselves unaware of many of the risks of casual sex and think it is not an issue for them. Many also do not know where to seek advice, and are not used to thinking about their sexual health.

Detailed information on STIs and safer sex can be found at: :www.nhs.uk/Livewell/sexualhealth/Pages/Sexualhealthhome.aspx.

Basic good advice is to use a condom for vaginal sex before any kind of genital contact (STIs can be passed without penetration or ejaculation). Only use water-based lubricant (no oils or lotions because these can damage condoms). For anal sex use a non-spermicidal condom and plenty of water-based or silicone lubricant. Do not go from anal sex to vaginal sex without changing the condom. If you have any cuts or lesions then it is good to also cover them with plastic plasters or with latex gloves for foreplay or sex using the hands, or a non-spermicidal condom over fingers. You might want to consider dental dams for oral sex also. The same precautions apply to sex toys as to using parts of your own body: always use a condom.