What is Safe Sex?

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The World Health Organization defines sexual health as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence

Safe sex is sexual activity engaged in by people who have taken precautions to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases.

The only safe sex is no sex. All forms of sexual contact carry some risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. By taking certain precautions and safe behaviors, the risk can only be reduced.

Having sex with only one partner who only has sex with you, when neither of you has a sexually transmitted disease is believed to be safe.

Kissing is thought to be safe but herpes can be transmitted this way. Condoms while offering protection against herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea, may not offer total protection from genital warts, syphilis or HIV

Five Ps for Safe sex
  • Partners
  • Prevention of pregnancy
  • Protection from STDs
  • Practices
  • Past history of STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and their prevention

These are infections spread by vaginal, oral or anal sexual intercourse. A person may have a sexually transmitted disease with or without symptoms but with a potential to infect others. Symptoms may include vaginal discharge, penile discharge, ulcers around the genitals or pelvic pain.

Viruses, bacteria or parasites can cause different forms of STDs.

Bacterial STDs for example include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphillis

Viral STDs for example include:

  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts

Parasitic STDs for example include:

  • Trichomonasis

Guidelines for safer sex

  • Think twice before starting a sexual relationship with a new partner. It is prudent to discuss past partners, history of STDs and drug use.
  • Unprotected sex is highly risky for contracting an STD. Use condoms every time you have sex. Use a new condom for each time. The condom should be made of latex as recommended by Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, USA
  • For oral sex, protect the mouth by having your partner use a condom
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs as this increases high risk behavior
  • Women should not douche after intercourse as this pushes the infection further into the reproductive tract
  • Get regular pap tests, pelvic examination and periodic tests for STDs
  • Check your and your partners body for signs of a sore, blister, rash or discharge
  • Rough sexual activity can increase risk
  • Immunisation against some viral infections transmitted sexually. Examples are HPV vaccine, Hepatitis B vaccine are given before start of sexual activity.
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