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Protection is important, but so is pleasure — the good news is safer sex can give you both!  Here are some safer sex tips to help you get the job done.

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How can safer sex make sex feel better?

One of the easiest ways to make safer sex feel great is by making safer sex, well, sexy. You can kiss and touch each other while you get the condom or dam out. Keep the mood going by having your partner put on the condom or dam. If you’re using an internal condom, your partner can put it in your vagina or anus for you. Attitude is everything — the better you feel about using protection, the better protection will feel when you use it.

There are a ton of different types of condoms, so everyone can find one that fits right and feels good. Some condoms are designed to increase sensation and make sex better: textures like studs and ribbing, colors, ultra-thin materials, and special lubricants can all add to the fun. If you use internal condoms for vaginal sex, the condom’s inner ring may stimulate the tip of the penis, and the external ring can rub against your vulva and clitoris — lots of people like these different sensations.  And condoms can even help sex last longer.

Using extra lube is another way to make sex feel great and help you stay safe — you can put a few drops of lube inside the condom and/or rub it on each other’s genitals. Flavored condoms and lube can make using protection during oral sex a tasty treat. And many people like the feeling of getting oral sex through a dental dam.

Nothing ruins a fun, sexy time like stress. Safer sex is better sex because it lets you focus on pleasure and your partner without worrying about STDs. Knowing you’re protecting yourself and your partner from STDs/pregnancy can make you feel proud and responsible. And talking to your partner about STDs, protection, and getting tested together is a great way to strengthen your relationship, improve communication, and increase intimacy and trust.

How can I make safer sex more convenient?

Barriers like condoms don’t protect you from STDs unless you actually use them, so always having protection nearby makes sticking to your safer sex game plan easier. Luckily, condoms are small, super portable, and can easily be stashed in your purse or backpack (away from anything that may poke them, of course!). It’s also a good idea to keep plenty of condoms and lube near your bed.

You can also make safer sex more convenient by naturally adding condoms to foreplay. You can put the condom on your partner and rub lube on their penis while you keep touching and kissing each other. That way, the condom becomes part of the action instead of stopping the action. If you use internal condoms, you can put it in ahead of time before you get busy, so having safer sex is more spontaneous

Condoms are easy to get from drugstores, Planned Parenthood health centers, community health centers, doctor’s offices, supermarkets, convenience stores, online, and even from vending machines, so they’re super convenient. Sometimes, condoms are even free. You don’t need a prescription and there are no age restrictions — anybody can buy condoms and dams.

You do need a prescription for internal condoms from your nurse or doctor, or you can buy them online. Internal condoms and dams may be a little harder to get, but you can order them online, buy them in certain stores, and you can sometimes get them at community health centers (like your local Planned Parenthood). 

I had unprotected sex. What should I do now?

Talk to a doctor or nurse about getting tested for STDs. Some STDs show up on tests within a week after you get infected. Other STDs take longer and may not appear on a test right away. You can call your nurse, doctor, or a Planned Parenthood health center to figure out which tests make sense for you, and when you should get them.

Get tested right away if you or your partner has symptoms of an STD, or if a past sexual partner tells you they have an STD.

But remember, most people who have an STD don’t have any symptoms and don’t know they’re infected. So even if you don’t notice any signs of an STD and feel totally fine, it’s still a good idea to get tested. In general, people who have any kind of sex should be tested for certain common STDs about once a year.

If you had unprotected vaginal sex — penis-in-vagina sex without using a condom — and you’re not using another type of birth control (like the pill, IUD, implant, or ring), you may also be at risk for pregnancy. If you don’t want to get pregnant, use emergency contraception right away. Emergency contraception (AKA the morning-after pill) can prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after sex, but some kinds work better the sooner you use them — so it’s important to act quickly.

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