Safe Sex and Pleasure
Practising safe sex is so important for your health and that of your partner(s). However, there is a commonly held belief that protection negatively effects pleasure. Protection like condoms, dental dams and other such barriers offer great protection against STI transmission, acting as a barrier between the genitals and mouth. Protection is recommended for anal/oral and vaginal sex. Many people find lubrication used with protection can make sex, not only safer, but more pleasurable too.
The different methods of protection available include external condoms, also called male condoms, which are highly effective at offering protection for oral, vaginal and anal sex. Female, or internal condoms cover more areas of skin around the genitals for greater protection, including from herpes and genital warts as well. A dental dam is an effective barrier for use during anal rimming and oral sex.
If you’re interested in the use of lubricants with protection to increase pleasure, do some research on the best types to use. Some are not recommended, such as:
Spermicides, like Nonoxynol-9 that can irritate the rectum and vagina, making them more susceptible to contracting an STI.
Petroleum-based creams and oils, like Vaseline should not be used on latex condoms.
Home products or Saran wrap, which have not been subjected to thorough testing and might not do anything to protect from STIs.
Importance of pleasure
Practising safe sex and experiencing pleasure need not be mutually exclusive. Here are some ways you can make safe sex more enjoyable:
Protection that feels great – Experimenting with different products will help you to find something that feels good and keeps you safe. There are different lubricants, a range of condom sizes and fits and the material choice can make a difference too.
Understand what makes you feel good – Pleasure varies greatly for every individual, so it’s important to get to know your body, what excites you, what you feel comfortable with. Experiment with sex toys and masturbation to learn more about what feels pleasurable for you and your partner. Confidence can help improve pleasure and knowing that you are free from STIs can help give you peace of mind. For STI testing London, visit checkurself.org.uk/plus/
Talk with your partner – It’s important to know what feels good for both you and your partner as sex is about giving and receiving pleasure. Talk to your partner about what they like and dislike, share ideas on things you could try to make protection feel better for both of you.
Be confident – Sex is more enjoyable when you’re comfortable, confident and able to say yes or no to things you like or dislike. Remember that you can always stop something, even if you are in the middle of an action if it doesn’t feel good or you need a break. You might find it hard to talk about these things, but it does get easier with practice.