What is safer sex?
Safer sex means not allowing your partner's body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids) into your body and vice versa. It can also mean covering up parts of the body that might be infectious (e.g. herpes, sores or warts) when you are having sex.
The only way to be 100% certain of never getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is never to have sex at all. However, if you do want to have sex, there are ways that you can reduce your risk of catching or passing on an infection.
When used properly, condoms are the most effective way of reducing the risk of getting or passing on an STI.
Lubricant should always be used with a condom. It helps stop a condom from breaking and is essential for anal intercourse. Always choose a water-based lubricant (not petroleum jelly like Vaseline) and rub it on the outside of the condom.
When using condoms you should always remember to:
- Check the use by date on the packet
- Open the packet carefully with your hands. Don't snag the condom with rings or fingernails
- Use the condom for the entire time you are having intercourse. Put the condom on before the penis comes into contact with the vagina or anus, and only when the penis is hard and erect
- Squeeze the teat on the end of the condom between two fingers and hold it against the tip of the penis
- Gently unroll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis. The penis should be withdrawn (taken out) immediately after ejaculation with you or your partner holding the rim of the condom to stop any spillage
- Slip the condom off carefully, wrap in paper and put in the bin (not down the toilet)
- You can only use a condom once. If you want to have sex again, put on a new condom
Read a fact sheet about condoms and how to correctly use them (Doc, 491KB)
Read a fact sheet about different methods of contraception (Doc, 785KB)
Read a fact sheet about contact tracing (Doc, 422KB)