Man to Man: Safer Sex
Safer sex is about being creative when you have sex, being sensitive to your partner’s needs and caring about yourself.
How much is too much?
Every sexual behavior carries some risk. The question is: how much is too much for you? Low-risk doesn’t mean no risk. Learning ways to make risky behaviors safer and then putting them into practice is one way to protect yourself. Figuring out your limits and sticking to them is another. Arm yourself with the facts to make the decisions that are best for you.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Some STIs are transmitted via exposure to body fluids such as blood, semen, pre-cum, vaginal secretions or breast milk. Others are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, when a person touches a lesion or infected area of skin.
Some STIs, like chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea are curable with antibiotics. Viral STIs, such as HIV, HPV, herpes and hepatitis, are treatable but not curable; your symptoms can be managed, but you’ll always have the virus. HIV, AIDS and hepatitis can cause long-term complications which can lead to death.
About condoms and lubes
Condoms come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, textures and flavors. Experiment! You may find you like one more than another.
Lubricants come in many textures and flavors. Check the list that follows for lubes that are safe to use with latex. It’s important to use water-based products, because oil breaks down latex. Always check the label to make sure the product doesn’t contain oil or something you or your partner may be allergic to.
Tips for hot sex
The hottest sex happens when you’re free from worries. Some tips:
Communicate: Talk to your partner before having sex. You want to know their likes, dislikes and limits, and they’ll want to know yours.
Get tested: No matter what the results, you’ll know the steps you need to take to be safe. UHS offers routine HIV testing; for an appointment, call (413) 577-5101. Learn more about HIV testing.
Drugs and alcohol: They impair judgment, decision-making and fine motor skills. Before you use, remember that they may affect how you and your partner feel about certain behaviors. You may take greater risks and your performance may be affected.
Keeping sex safer
Kissing is safe and fun! If your partner has herpes sores (cold sores) on the mouth, it’s possible to pass herpes to you by kissing. Hepatitis and HIV are transmitted by blood; if either of you have these, don’t brush your teeth right before you smooch!
Masturbation: nothing is safer than touching yourself when you’re alone! Touching yourself when someone else is watching is just as safe!
Massaging, hugging, cuddling, visual fantasy, reading erotic literature to each other and touching each other are all safe behaviors, as long as no body fluids are exchanged.
Fingering or jerking someone off are safe behaviors as long as no one has cuts or sores. If sores or warts are present, wash your hands before moving to another part of you or your partner’s body.
Sharing sex toys can be a great way to experience pleasure. Always make sure to wash toys before switching partners. Condoms are also great if you don’t want to run to the bathroom in the middle of sex. A new condom should be used for each person.
Fisting: Use lots of lube, start slow and listen to your partner. Fisting often involves contact with blood, which can carry HIV and hepatitis. To make this behavior safer, wear a latex glove.
S & M includes a wide range of activities and each person must decide what they’re comfortable with. Exposure to bodily fluids carries the risk of STI transmission. Make sure all props are clean. Communication is extremely important. Know your limits before you start.
Oral-anal sex (rimming) can be made safer by making sure the anus is clean. Using a latex dam can protect against transmission of bodily fluids.
It’s possible to transmit STIs through unprotected oral sex, even if your partner doesn’t ejaculate in your mouth. Don’t brush or floss 20 minutes before performing oral sex. The penis shouldn’t pound against the back of someone’s throat. Avoid ejaculating in your partner’s mouth or having them ejaculate in yours. Use a latex condom during oral sex. If you don’t like the taste of latex, use a flavored condom or try honey or jelly.
Anal sex is considered a high-risk behavior for disease transmission. To make it safer, use a latex or polyurethane condom and lots of water-based lube; oil-based products break down latex. Move slowly, easing your way in. Listen to your partner, for what feels comfortable and pleasurable. Use fingers to stretch the anus before putting in the penis. Don’t ejaculate in your partner’s body.