Safe Sex; Prevention and Getting Tested

This post began when writing another one about being sex positive, it won’t go into detail about all the risks it’s just a friendly reminder about safe sex practices and the importance of them. It’s such an important topic that I thought it deserved a post of its own. 

There is many contraception techniques available but to this point there is only one really effective way to prevent most STI’s besides being chaste. Condoms (preferably used with lubricant,) are still the best way to prevent contracting a Sexually transmitted infection besides abstaining from sex all together.

There is quite a few infections and diseases that still run rampant where they are allowed to and young people are particularly at risk according to statistics. Other sub cultures may be more at risk due to certain practices but where possible, I believe the harm should always be minimized. Safe, sane and consensual are the basic guidelines for those who practice BDSM and this should be the case across the board. 

It bothers me that some people will try to avoid wearing condoms. Maybe they aren’t aware of the risks which is why education is so important. People say they don’t like to wear condoms for different reasons which is a worry. The discomfort of using a condom should be minimal if there is any at all, there shouldn’t be if it’s the correct size and put on properly. There is so many types of condoms available including super thin ones so your sensation isn’t dulled too much by wearing one. Despite popular belief condoms aren’t a one size fits all, you may need to buy a different size to regular for it to fit properly and be comfortable. I think the mild amount of apparent discomfort is a small price to pay compared to the potential pain catching an STI can cause.

There really is no excuse for not wearing a condom, especially with someone you only just met or began having sex with. Go with that old saying, “if it’s not on it’s not on.” Seriously. If you had seen some of the pictures I have seen of STI symptoms you would absolutely agree with me and I’m sure if you have had the unpleasant experience of catching an STI you would also agree and it is more common than people tend to think for someone to catch something from having sex especially unprotected sex. 

As for getting tested many people are afraid to go or worried it will be painful. The tests are generally pretty straight forward and take only a short amount of time so any discomfort will be over quickly and when compared to the discomfort and pain of actually having a STI, you will wish you got tested. Most tests can be done with a simple swab or urine sample but some require a blood test. If you get tested and something comes back abnormal your doctor should be able to guide you or you can locate your local sexual health or family planning centre for expert advice. I recommend getting tested at one of these specialist facilities which in many places are funded so they won’t cost too much and you get to deal with people who know what they are doing as they deal with sexual health issues daily. Now days many STI’s have treatments which are readily available and easy to access in many parts of the world. Some like chlamydia require a single dose of antibiotics. Other problems can be more difficult to treat which is why prevention is really better than cure. There is unfortunately still some viruses and diseases for which there is no real cure but there is treatment to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. 

 Some of the STI’S that are most common include Chlamydia, which is really common and can’t always be detected without a test due to the fact some people show no symptoms. Syphilis is still a risk in today’s modern age as is Gonorrhea. Herpes and Warts are some of the more common STI’s and the virus stays in your body forever even after the flare up of symptoms has been treated you can still pass it on through aviral shedding. HIV and Hepatitis are also still around and without a condom you are putting yourself at risk of contracting any of these illnesses or infections. Condoms provide a barrier which gives you the best protection against that risk if you decide you want to have sex, which many of us do. Wearing condoms and getting regular tests especially after any contact that had a potential for transmission like unsafe sex or a broken condom are the best defence. They aren’t completely fool-proof but if condoms are used properly the risk is minimized greatly. Some skin to skin infections can get around condoms so it’s also a good idea to have a look down there and keep an eye out for anything unusual.

STI’s and other sexually transmitted diseases and bugs do not discriminate. They will infect a person who comes into contact with them at the first chance they get, that is how they survive by infecting their host, which in this case is us humans. They don’t look at a potential host and say ‘No, she’s too pretty for me to infect her.’ Or ‘Nah he has such a good job and he’s on the footy team let’s not infect him,’ they don’t think so all they are programmed to do is to survive and to reproduce by infecting new hosts. That is the case for viruses and bacteria as well as insects and microorganisms, most sexually transmitted infections in fact. Some affect our genitals but aren’t transmitted as such these can still cause problems. 

The topic of STI’S for me can cross over into a consent issue because often people aren’t forthcoming and honest about their sexual health status. In order to make an informed choice about whether you consent or not, you need know if your sexual partner or potential one, has an infection or disease. If you aren’t 100% sure then practice safe sex until you are which will require a visit to the doctor. You can not tell if someone has something just by looking at them or what your assumption is. Assuming is a dangerous game, especially when it comes to your sexual health. 

The best way to avoid dealing with these issues is to only practice safe sex and if you do have a slip up or a condom breaks then visit the doctor. It won’t take long to get checked out and chances are if you have caught something then getting on to it early will increase your chances of being able to treat it effectively and to treat most problems you do need a doctor. 

I don’t want to rave on about it because it’s quite simple really. Use protection. See the doctor. Or you could risk catching one of many infections or diseases then spreading them to everyone you have sex with just because you don’t like condoms or doctors. Or you could avoid having sex all together. I know what option I’d choose.

Remember: Safe sex is good sex.

Sex Positive, what does it mean?

​Defininitons of the term ‘Sex Positive,’
According to the Urban Dictionary the term Sex Positive has two meanings. The first one here is the definition that I’m interested in for this post, it’s a term I’ve come across lately that I think describes my attitude towards sexuality.

Sex Positive means:

“An approach to sex and human sexuality that embraces the full benefits of sexual interaction as healthy and uplifting, based upon the premise that sexual expression is good and healthy and that societal repression or control of the individual’s sex-drive is bad and unhealthy.”

It goes on to describe the way the sex positive community views sexual activity and sex education in a way that I strongly relate to and agree with.

“Sex Positive people advocate comprehensive sex education, because even in a free-sex utopia one must still be wary of sexually-transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.”

I personally am all for sex provided it’s consensual and safe. Which implies that the people participating have some knowledge of safe sex, sadly this is not always the case which is what makes sex education so important. The topic of sex education is one reason I began this blog because in my opinion too many people aren’t educated on the matter. Both young and older people need to be reminded of the importance of safe sex and why we encourage practicing only safe sex.

The topic of safe sex brings me to the next definition the Urban Dictionary listed under the term. I think the way I’d originally (and wrongly,) interpreted the meaning of it was in this regard, that some HIV positive people openly have sex with non infected partners. The definition they have says;

“Continuing to engage in erotic behavior and continuing to pursue an active sex life despite having been infected with a sexually transmitted disease, the term usually refers to HIV.”

The second definition shown here (labelled as the 1st by the urban dictionary,) is rather concerning and to me highlights the reason why it’s essential for us to take responsibility for ourselves and practice safe sex.

Wikipedia have a more accurate description of the modern definition which goes a way to clearing up the above confusion. According to Wikipedia site they tell us this;

“Sex-positivity is “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, encouraging sexual pleasure and experimentation”. The sex-positive movement advocates these attitudes. The sex-positive movement also advocates sex education and safer sex as part of its campaign”.[1] Part of its original use was in an effort to get rid of the frightening connotation that the term ‘positive’ had during the height of the AIDS epidemic. 


Being a term apparently coined by feminists (another word I am sometimes confused about as all women should be pro-women?) and as shown above there is some variations to what people will say is the exact meaning.
Being sex positive really means having an accepting attitude and an open mind towards sexual practices. It’s an understanding that just because you aren’t into something that someone else is that doesn’t make it bad.

People are into all sorts of things and if they aren’t hurting anyone and are all willing participants why should we judge them? Some people may be (and are,) discriminated against and stigmatized for participating in sexual activities that are considered outside the norm. Taking the sex positive approach means educating people about all areas of sex and sexuality, teaching them about acceptance. It involves having an open conversation around consent and what that means. (I have a post on this coming up soon too)

Judging adults for engaging in consensual sex of any type seems silly to me, why are we so bothered about what other people do in their bedrooms or other places for that matter?

My interpretation is that it’s an overall outlook or perception that involves being more open about sex and accepting of people and the choices they make about the types of sex they wish to have while encouraging them to take measures to do it safely. Taking this approach means educating people, ourselves firstly about all areas of sex and sexuality, including very importantly, consent and what that means.

After being brought up in a particular way deciding to become sex positive can be difficult and it will likely mean constantly checking in with yourself around your reactions and responses when sex is brought up in discussion. It means we have to question the way we were taught to think which is more of a process than an overnight decision.

Sex Positived Views and Education 

To practice safe sex one needs to be aware of the possible associated risks involved in sexual contact, the STI’S that exist, the possible means for transmission and ways to prevent them. This basically means being aware of the fact that bodily fluids can be transmitted during sex and even skin to skin contact can spread STI’s among other things. Knowing how to best prevent this from occurring and practicing it is safe sex. The best way to date is to use condoms (and to prevent pregnancy some type of contraception,) unless you are in a monogamous relationship with someone who you know is clear of any sexually transmitted infections. This means you and your partner must get tested.

For myself, having been a sex worker in the past, I am always surprised by people who don’t want to or won’t get tested when they are sexually active. I became used to getting regular tests done and do so diligently when I am not in a long term monogamous relationship like I am now. When our relationship began it took us both getting tested twice for me to feel comfortable having sex without condoms. I still got tested before my current relationship, even if I had only been practicing safe sex because condoms aren’t fool proof and there is still risks involved. I will still get tested every now and then as a precaution along with getting regular pap tests. I recommend others do the same. (I’m in the process of a post about safe sex, so that’s enough lecturing for now.)
Then there needs to be education around the possible risks associated with sexual activity and how best to prevent or minimize these harms. Education around pregnancy and STI’s should be available to everybody at a suitable age, it is important we teach our young people how to look after themselves and each other especially when they are beginning to form sexual (and non-sexual,) relationships. In my opinion this type of sex education should be available at all schools so every young person learns the facts about sex before they go out in the world and start doing it. Especially during a time when attitudes towards sexuality and sex are changing this education is more important than ever.

Many adults could benefit from some type of sex ed which was one of my reasons for starting this site, to help teach people what I have learned and to learn more to share that information with others because being educated can change people’s views and at this point in time many people are open to changing their views they just may need to get some facts to help them decide why. Gender is one issue that is currently changing in the way we view genders and how people identify with what gender they are, (there may be another post idea there,) but its not a straight forward topic as it was once considered to be.

Being open minded and sex positive

The times they are a changin’ and many forms reflect this with extra options for genders. Many countries have already taken the step to allow same sex marriages in a move that reflects popular public opinion. Australia recently had a plebiscite, or vote among its citizens about whether to legalize same sex marriage. It’s a shame it needed to come to that as there is already a large number of people living happily in all styles of relationships and not bothering anyone else so why we should be bothered with their sexuality is beyond me. We should be supportive of people in happy, loving relationships no matter what their gender is or roles they play.

We all need to be open minded and willing to learn in times like these, if we are to move forward and adapt to stay with the times. I am learning to use gender neutral terminology but may sometimes unwittingly slip back into practices that have been drilled into me since I was a child about gender roles and labels, I am trying to be more aware of this as I have learnt that some people find gender terms offensive and for very good reason if they don’t identify as being male or female.
I think being sex positive means you’re constantly evolving, and changing our ways of thinking that many of us were brought up with. Often the messages we were given, especially in religious households was (and is,) to feel guilty and negative about sex. Changing that way of thinking doesn’t happen overnight, it’s something we always need to be aware of, especially when the old ways of thinking automatically come back. Which does happen, none of us are perfect but if we make the choice to be open and positive towards sex we are taking the first step. Following that is the implementation of a new way of thinking, for many this doesn’t come as easily as we would like it to.
So from all this I learned a new term to describe myself and this blog, I am Sex Positive and what you just read was my brief take on what it means and what my opinion of what being sex positive means and  how I think it could impact people and society in general. I think I have always been sex positive but hadn’t used the term to describe myself until now.

Being sex positive should mean taking an overall positive approach to sex and sexuality bearing positive outcomes for the majority.

The only thing that should be negative about sex between consenting adults, should be the results of our STI testing.

 

Note the above is my opinion and views. I advise consulting with a health professional if you have any concerns or questions, ever.