Sexy Time: Staying Safe

Some kids stayed up late to watch naughty movies. Some kids stayed up late to watch The Simpsons. When I was a kid, I’d stay up late in my room with earphones plugged into the TV and the lights off watching Talk Sex with Sue Johanson, a show my parents wouldn’t have approved of me watching. Oops.

Maybe it was the first sign that I was destined to be a sex columnist, but all I knew at that time was that I was fascinated with sex. I was young, so I had no desire to actually have sex, but the idea of it – he puts his penis where!? – was totally intriguing to me.  Years of absorbing all the information I could – thank you Loveline and Savage Love – I became the kid all the other kids came to with their sex questions. Not that I had any actual experience at that point, but having religiously listened to various old people talk about sex, I kinda knew what I was talking about.

Being from Canada, I was lucky enough to receive comprehensive sex education from my school from grade four to grade nine… even if sometimes my teachers didn’t know completely what they were talking about (seriously, grade nine gym teacher, it’s not called the prostrate gland). It makes me sad to know that abstinence-only sex ed is being taught at most schools in the US.

Reading the comments from my article last week, it became pretty clear to me that the basics of safe sex is a blurry area for some people because they just didn’t have anyone to teach them. So, here it is ladies and gents, a basic, honest guide to safe sex. Not from some old sexual health nurse or a creepy gym teacher, but from a sex columnist who still gets some on a semi-regular basis:

Oh, and because some of you missed out on this special day in sex ed, I feel you need to see this before reading on. It’s like a rite of passage — and the video I had to watch was even worse.
Anyways, some things to remember:

Condoms – like a raincoat protects from the rain… only backwards:

  • Not all condoms are the same. Think about upgrading to Magnums or Magnus XLs if they’re constantly breaking, falling off, or your partner says that they’re too tight (guarantee it’ll boost his ego, too).
  • There are other alternatives for people who are sensitive to latex. Durex makes a great brand called Advanti that’s made of polyurethane and is just as safe as regular latex condoms. Hell, some people even claim they’re better than latex when it comes to letting you feel everything (I’d have to agree).
  • Condoms are also very important for anal sex. You might not get pregnant, but you can sure as hell get HIV.
  • Never ever ever wear two condoms at once. The friction between layers can lead to breakage. And you don’t want that.
  • Sometimes they’ll fall off (if that’s the case, try upgrading to a bigger size), but remember to just stay calm.
  • The condom doesn’t have to go on right before he penetrates you. Some men lose their erections when the condom arrives, so fool around for a few minutes after it’s on. It’ll take the pressure off of him, and integrating it into your foreplay will make it seem like a lot less of a chore.
  • This is one of my favorite tricks, and it’s always been very well received. And look, someone wrote a tutorial on it!
  • Condoms are 85-98% effective against pregnancy, and there is some debate over how effective they are at preventing STIs. But, since nothing else will protect against them, better wrap those willies.

The pill and other hormonal methods – take the pill/needle/patch and trust it’ll work:

  • Unlike condoms, you have to visit a doctor to be prescribed birth control.
  • Listen to your doctor. Start when he or she tells you to, and if you’re on the pill, take it around the same time every day. Hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day, so taking it at the same time insures one of those eggs won’t slip out of your ovaries.
  • If taken properly, hormonal methods can be up to 99.7% effective. So make sure you follow the instructions!

Spermicides – like nazis, but for sperm… and it goes in your vag:

  • Come in sponges, foams or gels and can be bought from the drug store.
  • Shouldn’t be used as the sole method of birth control, and doesn’t protect against STIs.
  • Read the instructions. Some spermicides can interact badly with condoms, leading to breakage. And again, we don’t want that.

Pulling out – messy fun times:

  • New studies have found that pulling out is almost as effective as condoms when it comes to preventing pregnancy. Partake at your own risk.
  • Will not protect against STIs, so this is only really an option for monogamous, tested couples.
  • Can actually be kinda fun, in that it’s messy and just a little bit kinky.

Condoms, with a back-up plan – the “a lot-people-actually-do-this” taboo:

  • Going condomless is tempting, but should only be considered with a long-term partner.
  • Before ditching the “domers”, both partners should get tested and have a full-disclosure policy about their sexual pasts.
  • Ladies: if you miss a pill, or somehow make a mistake with your contraception, tell your partner. He has a right to know if there’s a heightened risk of pregnancy in your future.

Sex doesn’t have to lead to diseases and pregnancy. The most important part of safe sex is to assess the risks and benefits and decide what’s right for your situation. Make smart, responsible, and informed choices — and have fun!

[For anyone who’s super curious, this site lists the failure rate for all common contraceptives. It’s good info to know.]

Ask A Dude: I’m Too Shy To Flirt
Ask A Dude: I’m Too Shy To Flirt
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