Safe sex is also frequently referred to as safer sex or protected sex and it is the cautionary implementation or the usage of various safety procedures that decrease or eliminate the risk of infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during sexual interaction or sexual contact. Sexual interaction or sexual contact in this context refers to intercourse through penetration of the vaginal or anal cavity as well as oral stimulation of the male or female genitals. Since the 1980s and the onset of the worldwide epidemic of the HIV/AIDS virus, safe sex has become a prominent topic in the media, in sex education in public and private schools and in many other arenas that are focused on societal harm and risk reduction tactics.
The main objective of safe sex is to prevent or avoid contact with other people’s bodily fluids which include blood, vaginal and rectal fluids and semen during any sexual activity between partners of opposite genders (male with female) or partners of the same genders (male with male and female with female).
The use of contraception does not necessarily or in all its forms equal to safe sex practices and, therefore, contraception does not always provide adequate protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Conversely, however, safe sex practices which are intended to protect against STDs also provide a means of contraception and family planning.
The Various Types of Safe Sex
It is virtually impossible to attain 100% protection when engaging in sexual activities with other people but there are ways of minimizing the risks considerably:
1. The solitary sexual activity as performed with oneself such as during autoeroticism or masturbation by stimulating one’s own genitalia is safe as long as there is no contact with discharged bodily fluid of other people.
2. Phone-sex and cybersex may involve several people but as they are all in remote locations, there is no risk of exchanging bodily fluids.
3. Non-penetrative sex which is also known as outercourse is a wide range of possible sexual activities that can be performed with partners as it minimizes the exchange of bodily fluids and therefore also the risk of STDs and pregnancy.
4. Condoms – To curtail the exchange of bodily fluids during sexual activity where penetration is involved, (male) condoms are most frequently used. These are sheaths made of latex or polyurethane which cover the entire penis and prevent semen from escaping and the partner’s bodily fluids from entering.
5. Female condoms are inserted into the vagina and they are used instead of the male condoms. The two, male and female condoms must never be used simultaneously because this may cause condom failure.
6. Dental Dam – Used originally for dentistry, the dental dam protects the mouth during oral sex when orally stimulating the vulva (cunnilingus) or the anus (anilingus).
7. Gloves – For mutual masturbation or foreplay, medical gloves made of latex, vinyl, nitrile, or polyurethane are effective means by which to prevent contract with bodily fluids.
8. Sex Toys – Assuming they are properly cleaned of anyone else’s remnants, the use of sex toys or dildos can be an effective means by which to partake in a sexual activity without exchanging bodily fluids.
9. Circumcision – Studies have shown that circumcision can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by up to 60% and thus it is backed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
10. Monogamy or polyfidelity and sexual faithfulness prevent the bringing of STDs into monogamous relationships.
11. Sexual discrimination and non-promiscuity greatly reduces the risk of contracting STDs in those who do not practice monogamy. In other words, people who are careful about whom they engage in their sexual activities and those who keep the number of partners down to a minimum are at lower risk then otherwise.
12. Health Checks – Those involved in sexual activities with multiple partners must submit to regular sexual health screenings, for their own sake as well as the sake of their partners and the society at large.