SAFETY IN PHYSICAL RELATIONSHIPS
What does ‘safety’ mean in a sexual relationship?
Safety often refers to the use of contraception. There are a range of birth control and contraceptive methods to choose from. The best way to decide which method is suited to you, would be to ask a healthcare professional. However, you may also speak to a trusted adult and do your own research. e.It is significant that you educate yourself on this for healthier relationship.
Ideally, a contraceptive method should be chosen before you start having sex. By making this decision before hand, not only are you ensuring your safety, but also taking the time out to think about what you want. It’s okay to want to take it slow, and it’s just as okay to jump right into it (safely and responsibly, of course). What’s important is that you feel ready, prepared and confident!
Safe sex also means communication. Include your partner in your decision-making and discuss your individual histories and preferences. Knowing what the other person likes and is comfortable with, ensures that it’s a fun experience for everyone.
However, always remember that your comfort is first priority. If your partner is insisting on something that you may not be up for – tell them. If they seem uninterested in what your wants are, then take a step back and reassess. A healthy relationship is one that respects boundaries and maintains open communication.
Why is safety important?
By practicing safe sex, you lower your risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancies. Are you not only protecting yourself and looking after your physical and emotional health, but your partner’s as well.
What are STDs exactly?
Sexually transmitted diseases are conditions that result from an infection, thereby causing greater health issues overall. There are also sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are due to bacteria, viruses or parasites entering your body and causing an infection. Both terms are often used interchangeably. Examples of some STDs and STIs are: chlamydia, gonorrhea, pubic lice and genital herpes.
How can I be safe?
Apart from avoiding any sexual contact all together, there is no way to be safe. Many humans are intimate beings, and for some, sex is a natural part of intimacy.
One of the best ways is to use barrier methods such as condoms. Barriers protect you from sexual fluids, which is one of the main ways STDs are spread and they protect from unplanned pregnancies as well. However, some STDs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, which is why regular testing for STDs, even when using a condom, is recommended.
Sometimes, infected individuals may feel fine and not show any signs of infection. Regular testing ensures early detection and proper treatment to avoid further spread to your partner. If you notice any genital blisters or warts, unusual discharge, genital pain or discomfort – always get tested before having sex. These could be possible signs of an STD.
Using lubricants along with condoms can help increase safety and comfort. The friction during skin contact can cause irritation and tearing, which can increase the chances of an STD entering your body. Different types of lube work with different types of condoms – be sure to check which ones you’re using!
Safe sex doesn’t need to be overwhelming. With a little pre-planning and stocking up on your chosen contraceptive method – it will be easy and enjoyable!
What if I already had unprotected sex?
Contraceptives usually have a specific period in which they are most effective, so it’s important to act quickly. However, a constant contraceptive method should be use to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Concerning STDs, you can call a healthcare professional and ask what the next best step is. If you or your partner have symptoms of and STD, or you were informed by a current or past partner that they have an STD – get tested.
How do I bring safety up with my partner?
Discussing a safety game plan with your partner can make your relationship stronger. Wanting to protect each other shows you care for and respect your relationship.
Ideally, this discussion should be had before engaging in any type of sexual activity. Decide which contraceptive method works and figure out if there is a need for testing.
Come up with an emergency game plan, just in case. Pre-planning and discussion ensures that you’re on the same page with your partner, and makes it easier just in case something goes wrong. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about what your and your partner’s expectations and comforts are.
If your partner doesn’t seem open to the idea of safer sex, and insists on not using protection or getting tested – there may be a need to step back and reassess the relationship. Safe sex is a way to respect your body and health – if your partner does not understand that, then unfortunately, they may not be the right sexual partner for you. You are not under any obligation to compromise on your health and comfort for someone else. It is okay to say no.