People of all genders and sexualities face the risks of having unprotected. Traditional safe sex guides are often structured in a way that presumes everyone’s gender is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Sex education resources often use videos, pictures, and diagrams as a way to convey important information, though these images and videos have historically failed to reflect or provide information about same-sex and queer relationships.
These guides also often unnecessarily gender body parts as being “male parts” and “female parts” and refer to “sex with women” or “sex with men,” excluding those who identify as nonbinary, trans or any other gender identity.
This is a guide that addresses safe sex practices for those that identify with the LGBTQIA+ community.
Woman, man, non-binary, cisgender, trans? Whether you’ve had any surgery or not, this guide is for you and your vagina. So let's look at some things to keep in mind -
Using a condom is the most effective way to stop you and your partner(s) from getting HIV and other STIs, and to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Before using a condom, you need to check that it has not passed its best before date. Condom packs should have the kite mark and the CE mark to show the condoms are good quality. You should only use one condom at once, because using more than one increases the likelihood of them both breaking. If you or your partner(s) are allergic to latex, there are many varieties of latex-free condoms. Condoms come in varying sizes, textures, and materials, so have some fun experimenting to find the right one for you!
If you are using sex toys, it is important to use a condom and change the condom every time the toy is used in a different hole or on a different person. This will protect you and your partner(s) from HIV and other STIs. If you are fingering or fisting, you can use gloves or condoms on your hands or fingers to protect against STIs that are passed on through contact, like syphilis. You could also use internal condoms or dental dams (sometimes called femidoms or female condoms) which are latex-free. It is important to change the condom between partners and holes, both to avoid the transmission of STIs and HIV but also because bacteria found in the anus can cause harm if it gets in your vagina.
Changes in your body could indicate a problem such as an STI or some other infection. For example, if your periods or discharge change in frequency, amount, colour, texture or smell this could be because something’s not quite right. Vaginal infections aren’t always passed on through sex – for example, you could get thrush or bacterial vaginosis (BV) because you’re stressed, or because you’ve been wearing tight underwear or using heavily scented products to clean.
To protect yourself, know what is normal for your body and if you’re worried about any changes, see a health professional, such as a doctor or nurse at a sexual health clinic.
Anal sex can be a really amazing experience and something that people can do and enjoy regardless of their sexuality or gender.
There are a lot of nerve endings all around the anus which can be stimulated by kissing, licking, running your finger around the anus and penetration, which is why anal sex can be so pleasurable. It is also why people are sometimes concerned about pain, and why it is important to take your time and even try experimenting on your own with sex toys or fingers. You can also try experimenting on your own first, using butt plugs or anal beads to become familiar with the sensation and become more confident with inserting something larger.
Douching is not necessary for anal sex, as there is normally only poo in the rectum if you need to go to the toilet. Some people feel more comfortable after douching, especially if they are going to be having rougher sex or getting fisted. Douching can irritate the lining of your rectum and can make it easier to get infections, including HIV. If you decide to douche, it is important to only use water at body temperature. You should never use soap or any cleaning products, as this will irritate the lining of your rectum even more. Here's a safe guide to douching you can use - click here.
Some sex toys can be used inside the anus to stimulate the anus and prostate (like dildos, anal beads and butt plugs) and some are made to be used outside the body and can be used to stimulate your ass hole (like small vibrators). Using vibrating toys can feel too powerful at first – if you need to dull the vibrations you could try keeping your underwear on, or putting a towel or blanket between yourself and the vibrator to make it less strong. Similarly, if you find the vibrations are not strong enough, putting in a fresh set of batteries will often do the trick. If you are putting a sex toy inside you, make sure it has a flared base so that it cannot get lost inside your body, and always use a condom on the sex toy to avoid any infections.
Using lube is important during anal sex because the anus does not lubricate itself. If you do not use lube, it can cause the skin inside your rectum to tear, which is painful and can also increase the risk of getting HIV and STIs. With lube, you should start off with a few drops, and if you feel as though you’re not lubricated enough, then gradually add more. Water-based and silicone-based lubes are the best for anal sex, though you cannot use silicone-based lube with silicone sex toys, as this will damage the sex toy and make it uncomfortable and unsafe to use. When in doubt, always use water-based lube. Do not use petroleum jelly or any other random things such as oils, butters, and moisturisers that you have lying around your bedroom as lube, as these can break the condom or harm the most sensitive parts of your skin.
Some people really worry about taste and being clean with rimming, which is understandable! Unless you need to poop, or you have recently, there will not normally be any poop around your anus, but you might still want to give it a wipe over with some warm water, and that can make you feel a little cleaner. Your anus can also get a bit sweaty, and the sweat in that area can taste and smell stronger than in other areas. Some people like this, so it is always worth talking with your partner about what they like! If they don't you can always give it a quick clean, or hop in the shower before having sex if you really want to feel fresh. Dental dams can help protect you against HIV and other STIs. You should never reuse a dental dam, and you should always make sure you use the same side and change the dam between partners and holes.
Oral sex can be great, whether you’re giving or receiving it, and there are lots of reasons why people might do oral. For some people, it can really turn them on to see their partner(s) having a good time, and other people enjoy it as part of foreplay before having other kinds of sex.
Penises come in all shapes, sizes and varieties, and what one person likes, someone else might not. Talking to your partner(s) can help you to figure out what you both like, and what works for you. Whether someone is circumcised or not can affect how sensitive they are, and what they like. If someone is circumcised, the head of their penis may be less sensitive. Blow jobs People who have an uncircumcised penis may struggle to pull back their foreskin fully when they are erect. Tight foreskins may be more difficult to keep clean, and dry, which can increase the likelihood of infections like thrush. If you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort, you can talk to a medical professional about this.
Many people need clitoral stimulation to orgasm, so prefer their partner(s) to focus on their clitoris. If touching your clitoris directly is too intense, try wearing underwear or touching around the area. Vaginas come in all shapes, sizes and varieties, and what one person likes, someone else may not. Talking to your partner can help you to figure out what you both like, and what works for you.
Oral sex carries a very low HIV risk, but if you have ulcers or bleeding gums, be careful. Before using a condom, you need to check that it has not passed its best before date. You should only use one condom at once because using more than one increases the likelihood of them both breaking. If you or your partner(s) are allergic to latex, there are many varieties of latex-free condoms. You could also use internal condoms like dental dams which are latex-free. You can make dental dams from a condom, and they can help to stop any bodily fluids carry STIs in your mouth. You should never reuse a dental dam, and you should always make sure you use the same side and change the dam between partners and holes.
Talk openly about the sex you want to have. Test regularly for HIV and other STIs. Take control of your sexual health and wellbeing, and most importantly stay safe!