Teens Ask the Experts
What’s Safe Sex & Safer Sex?
How Does Drug Use Affect Overall Health?
How Can You Tell If You Have An STD?
What Can I Do To Stay Healthy?
the experts say: In order to explain Safe Sex and Safer Sex, we must also talk about abstinence, Risky Sex and High Risk Sex. We will discuss them in order, going from what we consider most safe, to what we consider most risky.
Abstinence (or No Sex) – A situation in which a person decides not to engage in sex for one or more reasons, and holds true to that decision. Advantages of practicing abstinence include:
- no risk of pregnancy because there’s no exchange of body fluids that can lead to a sperm and egg uniting.
- no risk of getting HIV or other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), which is possible when there is an exchange of body fluids during vaginal, anal or oral sex. These body fluids could be infected, and there’s no way of knowing without a laboratory test whether or not a person has infected body fluids.
- less chance of getting emotionally involved with a person or persons who:
- might hurt your feelings later, or
- might have sex and then talk about it.
If a person participates in vaginal, oral or anal sex, even using a condom or other barrier, it cannot be called or considered safe sex, but safer sex. That’s because even when condoms are used properly (and many people don’t use them properly), in a small number of cases, condoms can leak or break, thus permitting fluid exchange.
Safer Sex – Sexual activity in which there is a small chance of exchanging bodily fluids. The most widely used form of safer sex is latex condom use during sex. This is because condoms serve as a physical barrier in case one of the sexual partners has infected fluids.
However, if condoms are not used properly, they are not effective, and the person using them is not engaging in safer sex. Therefore, teens who decide to be sexually active and use condoms to protect themselves must be sure they know how to use condoms properly, and insist that they and their partner always use them that way.
Sex is also safer when sexually active people only have sex with one person, who is known to be uninfected, as a result of proper testing. This is called monogamous sex. It does not mean just having sex with one person at a time.
Risky Sex – Sexual activity in which latex condoms or other acceptable physical barriers are not always used, or are not always used properly.
Although oral contraceptives usually prevent pregnancy when properly used, they don’t prevent HIV or other STD’s. Therefore, sexually active teens (and women) who use oral contraceptives but don’t use condoms are engaging in risky sex. In fact, many experts consider this high risk sex.
Finally, also remember the Health Power motto:
Knowledge + Action = Power!