Can I get an STI from that? - Play Safe
The fun stuff
NSW Government
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Sex is great. But also kinda confusing sometimes. What risks are there for different kinds of sex? And how do you stay safe and take control of your sexual health?


From phone sex to intercourse, this handy ‘Can I get an STI from that?’ guide is here to help. We also let you know what other risks an activity might involve, and most importantly, how to minimise those risks and simply enjoy the moment. 


Remember; whatever form of sex you’re having there’s three ingredients that will always help keep you happy and safe. Consent, condoms, and regular STI testing (at the start of a new relationship, every 6-12 months if you have more than 1 sexual partner, and anytime you notice symptoms). 


Phone Sex

What is it? Dirty/sexy talk via the phone, or video call.
Can I get an STI? Nope. Most definitely not. 

Pregnancy? You’re safe there too.

What other risks are there? The biggest risk with phone sex (or sex via video platform) is consent, trust and security.

How do I stay safe & have fun? Make sure that you’ve both consented to the subject before saying anything that might make someone uncomfortable. And remember, consent for one thing doesn’t mean a free for all. It’s NEVER okay to record or share video of someone else without their permission. In fact, it’s a crime. If you’re using a voice or video app you’ll also want to ensure it’s secure. Want more info? This article has some great advice on video sex. 

Sexting

What is it? Sharing hot messages, exchanging hot pictures via text message or a text messaging service like SnapChat or WhatsApp. 

Can I get an STI? Nope. Most definitely not. 

Pregnancy? You’re safe there too.

What other risks are there? The biggest risk with sexting is consent, trust and security.

How do I stay safe & have fun? Make sure that you’ve both consented to the subject before sharing any messages or photos. Never share private images meant just for you with other people – you’ll also want to be confident that they won’t share any of your photos or text message exchanges. There’s a few other handy hints too, like not sharing photos that show your face or any distinguishing features. Find out more here.

Kissing

What is it? Pressing your lips against someone else’s, with or without tongues (turns out there’s no nice way to explain what kissing is…) 

Can I get an STI? It is possible to get oral herpes (cold sores) from kissing. The chance is pretty low though if they don’t have sore on their lips at the time.

Pregnancy? Nope. You won’t get pregnant. 

What other risks are there? Kissing is pretty great and about as safe as you can get in terms of STIs. Right now, it’s important to remember that kissing is a risk for Covid-19. 

How do I stay safe & have fun? If someone has a cold sore, avoid kissing until it’s gone. Herpes is far less likely to be passed on if it’s asymptomatic. Want to know more about Herpes, get the full low down here.

Mutual Masturbation

What is it? Masturbating with your partner.

Can I get an STI? You’re only touching yourself, so you’re safe from STIs.

Pregnancy? Nope. You won’t get pregnant either. 

What other risks are there? None at all. 

How do I stay safe & have fun? Make sure you clean your hands first and keep your fingernails short.

Sharing Sex Toys

What is it? Using the same sex toy/vibrator/object to sexually pleasure yourself and another person.

Can I get an STI? It is possible to get an STI (such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea) from a shared sex toy, as STIs are passed on via bodily fluids which can be found on a sex toy after use.  

Pregnancy? No risk of pregnancy. 

What other risks are there? Depending on what you’re using as a sex toy, there are risks of internal damage (small cuts/tears). Make sure you choose a safe toy that’s designed specifically for sex. And keep it clean to make sure it stays hygienic. 

How do I stay safe & have fun? Always wash the toy or put a new condom on it before another person uses it to prevent passing on STIs. Find out more about sex toys here.

Fingering/Hand Jobs

What is it? Using your hands to stimulate your partner’s genitals.

Can I get an STI? You’re at very low risk of an STI unless you switch between touching yourself and touching your partner. Even then the risk remains exceptionally low. 

Pregnancy? You’re safe from pregnancy.

What other risks are there? This type of sex is one of the safest forms of sex. Relax and enjoy. 

How do I stay safe & have fun? See above. You’re all good here.

Dry Humping

What is it? Rubbing, grinding, and thrusting against someone, similar to the movements of intercourse but without actual penetration. Dry humping can be in various stages of undress.

Can I get an STI? Dry humping is a very low risk of sexual activity, especially if at least one of you is clothed (or at least wearing underwear). However, some are still a possibility, especially if you’re naked. That’s because some STIs can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, including HPV, herpes and syphilis.

Pregnancy? No risk if at least one person is clothed/wearing underwear. 

What other risks are there? That’s it for dry humping. 

How do I stay safe & have fun? To be as safe as possible, have at least one person leave their underwear on.

Oral Sex

What is it? Using your mouth to pleasure someone’s penis, vagina, or anus.

Can I get an STI? The most common STI passed through oral sex is herpes. You may not realise it, but those cold sores you get on your mouth every once in a while are actually caused by Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV1). Almost half of genital herpes is caused by HSV1, passed from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex. Other STIs commonly passed during oral sex are gonorrhoea, syphilis and hepatitis A (hepatitis A is only passed through oral sex to the bum or rimming). It’s very unlikely that HIV would be passed through oral sex.

Pregnancy? No risk of pregnancy here. 

What other risks are there? Be gentle with the teeth!

How do I stay safe & have fun? For oral sex with a penis, condoms are the way to go. If the taste of latex isn’t for you (and let’s face it, latex condoms aren’t exactly delicious), look for flavoured condoms and lubricants. For oral sex on a vagina or anus, you can use a dental dam, or even cut up a condom (including a flavoured one) to make your own dental dam.

Vaginal Intercourse

What is it? We’re talking penis-in-vagina sex. 

Can I get an STI? Condomless vaginal intercourse is high-risk for STIs. 

Pregnancy? Yep, pregnancy is a risk unless you’re covered by a reliable contraceptive. 

What other risks are there? STIs and pregnancy are the biggest risks for vaginal intercourse.

How do I stay safe & have fun? Always use a condom and get tested for STIs regularly. That means every 6-12 months if you have more than one sexual partner, at the start of a new relationship, and any time you notice symptoms. If you’re in a monogamous relationship and want to stop using condoms, read this first.

Anal Intercourse

What is it? Put simply, it’s penis-in-anus intercourse.

Can I get an STI? Unprotected anal sex is high-risk for STIs. 

Pregnancy? No risk of pregnancy.

What other risks are there? The anus is a delicate thing and can tear easily. Take it easy, especially if you’re new to anal sex. Always use lube! Go slowly at first and listen to your body, stop if there’s pain
.
How do I stay safe & have fun? Always use a condom for anal sex. This – combined with regular STI testing – is the best way to stay safe. Also, lube, lube, lube. This will help stop any tears/discomfort as well as making sure the condom has less chance of breaking. Get the low down on anal sex here.

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