SAFE - Sexual Advice For Everyone
NEVER ASSUME CONSENT
The most important thing during any sexual encounter is that it is consensual. British rape laws have changed beyond no means no, to yes means yes. This means that partners have to actively consent to have sex with each other. If a sexual partner consents one time or at one moment to have sex that cannot be taken as consent for later times or repeated sexual encounters. It is also illegal to have sex with anyone who is drunk as they are not in a position to give consent. Never assume consent.
When you have sex, the following tips will help you to have safer sex. Although the surest way to be 100% safe from STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) is to not have sex at all, the following recommendations will help to keep you safer. STIs may not present symptoms early on, so even if all seems ok, it may not be.
If you're a man having sex with a woman:
Condoms are an ideal accessory, providing the best protection from pregnancy and STIs (with 99% protections rate when used correctly). If you are about to have sex with a new partner and they do not want to use a condom, you do not have to have sex with them. A polite refusal is preferable to making a decision you may regret later. Bringing protection (e.g. a condom) is not soley the responsibilty of the man. Everyone that is sexually active has a personal responsibility to ensure that they and their partners are kept as safe as possible during sex. Tips on how to put on a condom can be found below.
If you're a woman having sex with a man:
Carrying a condom is not a statement of intent, it does not say you will or have to have sex. It just means you're prepared and could as easily be to give to a friend to use as for yourself. Take note that if you're using oral contraception, this will only guard against unplanned pregnancy and you should still take precautions against STIs. Femidoms (female verson of the condom) is another good means of protection, but is less effective than the condom. Condom's should be used for all types of sex; oral, anal and vaginal as STIs can be transmitted through each way.
If you're a man having sex with a man:
Condoms are still the best way to have safer sex between men. Anal sex carries a potentially higher risk of sexual infection as the skin of the anus is thinner and more likely to tear. It is recommended to use plenty of lube with your condom, which also should help reduce the risk of the condom splitting. Condoms should also be used during oral sex as STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can be transmitted that way. HIV infection amongst youner men having sex with men (16-25) is growing partly as the idea of it being 'treatable' is reducing the impact of safer sex messages, however HIV still has serious health implication and can increase morbidity and mortality.
If you're a woman having sex with a woman:
STIs are an issue for women having sex with women, and a good way to protect yourself during oral sex is the dental dam. The dental dam, which is a thin piece of latex is placed over the vagina and clitoris during oral sex. If you find it difficult to get hold of a dental dam, they can be improvised by cutting a condom into a square or using a piece of kitchen wrap. Also, if you're using a sharing sexual aids (or sex toys) make sure these are cleaned between uses and if switching between partners, and again use with a condom for further protection from STI's.
Tips for using a condom correctly:
Condoms (and to a lesser degree femidoms) are the best method of protecting against pregnancy and STIs. If used correctly, condoms are 99% effective. Oil based products such as lotions, Vaseline or moisturiser (and cream treatments for Thrush) can weaken the condom and cause deterioration and splitting.
Condoms should be stored somewhere that isn't too hot or cold, so your pocket/wallet may not be the best place for them. Condoms have a use by date (after which they may deteriorate and become less effecive) so check yours are not out of date before you use them.
How to put on and dispose of a condom:
- Check the condom is still in date
- Remove from the packet, being careful not to damage or tear the condom
- Make sure it is the right way up, so it will roll on easily
- If the condom has a 'teat' at the end, use thumb and forefinger to squeeze the air out being rolling on
- Gently roll the condom down to the base of the penis
- After sex, hold the condom to the base of the penis while you withdraw
- When taking the condom off be careful not to spill any semen
- Tie the condom and then dispose of in the bin (do not flush down a toilet)
There are two main types if emergency contraception: the ‘morning after’ pill and the IUD (intrauterine device). Both types are very effective at preventing pregnancy. Note: Emergency contraception does not protect against STIs, so get a full STI screen when you go for emergency contraception.
The Morning After pill: There are two types: Levonelle (has to be taken with 72 hours – 3 days -of sex) and ellaOne (has to be taken within 120 hours – 5 days – of sex). Each is more effective the sooner it is taken.
Effectiveness of Morning After Pill:
Taken with 24 hours – 95% effective | Taken within 48 hours – 85% effective | Taken within 72 hours – 58% effective
As you can see the morning after pill cannot guarantee to stop pregnancy if taken a few days after having sex, so take a pregnancy test after a couple weeks if you took the pill later.
Possible side effects: nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches and abdominal pain, and your next period may come earlier than expected. If you have sickness or diarrhoea within 2 hours of taking the pill, contact your doctor as you may need to take another.
The IUD: An IUD is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that’s inserted into the womb (uterus) by a specially trained doctor or nurse. The IUD works by stopping the sperm and egg from surviving in the womb or fallopian tubes. It may also prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb. The IUD can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex. If you opt for an IUD as an emergency contraception method it can be left in as your usual method of contraception. There may be some discomfort when an IUD is put in but painkillers can relieve this and it is no cause for alarm.