Whether you've never had sex or been around for a while, we can all agree that the sexual education most people grew up exposed to lacked real depth and helpful information.
The term we hear over and over again is "practicing safe sex". But what does that actually mean?
If you're anything like me, the only thing you can remember from your high school sex education is your teacher awkwardly sliding a condom over a banana and your classmates giggling at every mention of "penis" or "vagina".
This over-generalized approach leaves young, thriving teenagers feeling unprepared and empowered when they begin exploring their sexuality.
You then have the words "practice safe sex" in your ears and there are no concrete ways you can put this into practice without getting a pack of condoms from the health center on your school campus.
Back to basics
The idea that condoms and birth control are the only tools that make sex safe is backward and out of date.
Obviously, you'll want to cover all of your basics, especially when you're dating or practicing with a new partner Non-monogamy. This means that you will be tested regularly (every six months or after a new partner) for sexually transmitted diseases, discuss your STI status, and talk about birth control options if this applies to you.
It's important to note that while you should talk to your partner about birth control and STI status, it makes sex “safer”, not “safe”. Sex inherently carries the risk or chance of becoming pregnant and becoming infected Sexually Transmitted Diseaseno matter how "sure you are".
If you happen to contract an STI, it is a natural part of biology and nothing to be ashamed of. Many are easy to treat if recognized early or go away on their own.
But safer sex offers a lot more …
Communication is the key
Sex itself is a form of communication, but talking about things before, after, and possibly during your intimate interactions can help clarify that communication and make it more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Build yours sexual communication Skills allows you to discuss your limits, STI status, on and off, traumatic experiences You may want to disclose your wishes and needs Kinks,
Communication creates trust, which in turn leads to a feeling of security. When you feel safe, your body can relax and you can be present in the moment and in your pleasure.
Check in with yourself
To make sure your needs are being met, it is helpful to have guidelines about what to look for in a sexual experience and what will add to your sense of security.
You can start with your external environment. Do you feel comfortable in the physical space you are in? Is there somewhere you can relax and be in the moment?
Safe sex is also a check-in with your body and yours nervous system before, during and after intimate encounters.
Try asking yourself these questions …
- Am I clenched or tense in any part of my body?
- Does that feel right – trust your gut.
- I am enjoying myself
- Do I have pain or discomfort?
- What am i thinking about
- Do I feel emotionally and physically safe with this person?
- Do I feel seen and heard?
Check in with your partner
All of these questions that you just asked yourself can now be asked of your partner.
This doesn't mean going through a laundry list of questions and answers in the heat of the moment, but quick questions like "Does this feel good" or "How does this feel?" can open the space for them to communicate their needs.
Checking in before and after and giving each other the opportunity to reflect on your experience can add to that sense of security. These conversations don't have to be dry and boring. Make her sexy! It can even be part of foreplay or pillow talk.
If you have a regular sexual partner, this may become clearer over time and it will be easier to grasp each other's non-verbal cues.
The power of choice
Safe sex must also include the power of choice. This means that both you and your partner have autonomy over your own body and over the experience you create together.
Physical autonomy means moving with the timing of your body and walking at a pace that is comfortable to the touch. Know that you have the power to stop or slow things down when it feels right to you.
It also means respecting your partner's pace, desires, and limits without judgment or shame.
Choice is also about choosing how to define sex. Sex doesn't have to be pervasiveit can be what you and your partner want and need.
Feeling safe during sexual encounters is a basic human right. The redefinition of “safer sex” gives us new tools to advocate for our needs and to build trust in relationships. Joy is power.