When people hear ‘safe sex’ they usually think about protecting themselves and partners from unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmissible infections (STIs). But we reckon that safe sex means much more than that – it’s not just about whether you’re being safe, it’s about whether you feel safe too.
Here are our 4 C’s of safe sex – Consent, Condoms, Contraception, and Communication. Follow these four golden rules and you’ll have safe – and great – sex, every time.
Without consent, sex can’t happen. It’s as simple as that. But what exactly is consent?
In a recent article with Consent Labs we asked them that question, and here’s what they had to say:
Consent looks enthusiastic. When your partner is excited, engaged and their body language, tone of voice and what they’re saying all adds up to: I’m 100% in!
Sounds simple? That’s because it is. Here are a few other things to remember when it comes to consent.
Condoms, condoms, condoms. Here at Play Safe, we can’t get enough of them. But it’s easy to see why. Condoms are the only form of contraception that protects against both STIs and unplanned pregnancies.
They’re easy to find (sometimes even free), easy to use (see here for how to use a condom), and are 98% effective when used correctly.
When it comes to safe sex, nothing beats the humble condom.
The quick answer is yes, you do. Getting regularly tested for STIs is a normal part of a healthy sex life and is recommended every 6-12 months as standard practice, or if you change partners, have unprotected sex, or experience any symptoms. The reason you still need an STI test even if you’re using condoms is that condoms – even though the best form of contraception – are still not 100% reliable. Condoms + regular STI testing = all the fun and none of the worry.
Condoms are the only way to prevent both STIs and pregnancy, but some people may use an additional contraceptive method as well.
If your partner is taking a contraceptive like the ones above, make sure you show support. Ways to do this include offering to go with them to their doctor’s appointments, to share costs, and remind them of when they need to get a replacement implant/IUD/pill.
Also, be there to listen and talk through options with them and the reliability and pros and cons of each. Even if you’re not taking the contraceptive it impacts you too; an unwanted pregnancy is a shared responsibility and understanding the effectiveness of a contraception is important for both parties.
The question of if and when to stop using condoms with a partner is a complex one with lots to consider. It’s important to remember that contraceptives like the Pill and the IUD do not prevent the transmission of STIs, and they are also not 100% reliable. Sex will always be safer with the combination of condoms, contraceptive, and regular STI testing.
The 4th C is perhaps the most important of them all, as, without it, conversations around consent, condoms and contraceptives can’t happen.
Whether you’re having a one night stand, having fun with a friend with benefits, enjoying a quick fling, or are in a long-term relationship, communication is everything.
If you’d like more advice or guidance on how to have safe sex, why not ask a question on the Play Safe forum? Our Mod Squad is always ready to help.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live and work and recognise their ongoing connection to land, waters and communities. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.