HIV / AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy, different kinds of protection… Yikes!
The list of things to think about when it comes to safer sex can feel overwhelming! Most importantly, it’s up to each of us to take care of ourselves, and our partners. Fortunately, with a little research and thought on your part, you’ll be in a position to make smart choices when it comes to being sexually active!
While it may not seem like it, communication (talking about it) is one of the most important things when it comes to safer sex. Making sure that you’re well informed about safer sex and that you’re comfortable talking about it is key to keeping yourself safe. That means being knowledgeable and being comfortable talking to someone you may have sex with. It means being able to tell them about what activity you’re okay with and not giving into pressure to try things that you don’t feel good about. Enthusiastic consent is really important so that everyone involved has a great time. For trans folks, it may also be important to feel confident telling your partner not only what you’re comfortable doing, but also how you’d like them to refer to your body parts, so that you can feel good about what’s happening.
We also know that sometimes it’s easier said than done. That’s where talking with parents, friends, public health nurses, or counsellors can really help!
Another good thing to remember is that the risks associated with sexual activity depend on what sexual activities you’re doing and have nothing to do with who you are or how you define yourself.
- Two men may think of themselves as straight but have unprotected anal sex with each other and with others. They are at a higher risk of contracting HIV or an STI than two men who think of themselves as gay and engage in protected anal sex.
- A woman who thinks of herself as a lesbian but has unprotected vaginal sex with a man is at similar risk to a straight woman who does the same thing. The risks depend on what you’re doing!
Finally, it’s important to remember that choosing to have sex with someone is a big decision. It isn’t one that should be made quickly or lightly. In the end, you’re the only person who knows if you’re really ready but it can help to talk to someone else about it!