Safe sex is sexy. Sex is meant to feel good and be fun, but it can be risky if not treated with respect. When entering into sexual relations with someone, the first thing you should do is talk about it and make sure you seek consent. Always ask someone before you start touching them or engaging in intercourse.
This article talks about: safe sex, consent, decision making, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, emergency contraception, and where to go if you need advice or help.
WHAT IS SEX?
Sex can mean different things to different people.
A better way to describe sex would be to say sexual activity, as sex can include a range of things.
Sex can include:
- Penetration of the vulva/vagina or anus by another person using any part of the body or any object.
- Putting a penis into a mouth.
- Putting a mouth onto a vulva.
- Any other sexual activity that may involve another person/people like kissing and mutual masturbation.
This info sheet is about how to do all of these sexual activities safely.
DEFINING SAFE SEX SAFE SEX
is not just about taking care of your physical self, but also your emotional self.
Safe sex means:
- Only having sex with the consent of everyone involved.
- Feeling good about your decision.
- Preventing the transmission of sexually transmissible. infections (STIs)
- Preventing unplanned pregnancy.
ONLY HAVING SEX WITH CONSENT
No matter what you include as sex if it involves another person or people, everyone involved needs to give consent.
- Consent is when someone communicates yes to something. This is best achieved by either saying yes or signing yes.
- Sometimes people may send signals that might mean yes — these are times when we need to stop and check-in. Asking questions like “Are you ok with this?” or “Do you want to stop?” or “Do you want to go further?” can help to clarify consent in a situation.
- If a person does not respond – they are not giving consent and things need to stop.
- If a person communicates no – they are not giving consent and things need to stop.
- If a person is very drunk or under the influence of drugs — they are not able to give consent and things need to stop.
- Needs to be given in every sexual encounter – every time. Even if it has been done before.
- In every relationship — no matter how long you have been together or how long you plan to stay together.
- May be taken back at any time — its ok to change your mind.
- Is an important part of respecting the person/ people you are with and their sexual rights (and yours as well).
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CONSENT
What is sexual consent:? ReachOut.com.au
Tea consent: An interesting take on consent
FEELING GOOD ABOUT YOUR DECISION
Sex should be a positive, pleasurable experience.
Sometimes we can feel all sorts of pressures to have sex and while we may say yes and mean it, it's also important to feel good about that decision.
Things that help us to make good decisions include:
- Talking with the person/people you are about to have sex with. What are they expecting? What are you expecting? What do you like? What do they like? Etc.
- Being drunk and/ or under the influence of other drugs can impair our ability to make good decisions. Think about how you could make sure you’re not put in a situation where you will need to make a decision in this state, or what you can do to increase your chances of making a better one.
- Be honest — with yourself and the person/people you are with. Everyone has a line and only you know where that line is for you.
- Get the info you need — think about where you can go to get more information on safe sex or who you can talk to about it.
FOR MORE DETAILS ON MAKING GOOD DECISIONS SEE THE FOLLOWING:
- The Line Do you know where you draw the line?
- SHFPACT Info about your sexual and reproductive health
PREVENTING SEXUALLY TRANSMISSIBLE INFECTIONS (STIs)
STIs are transmitted from one person to another through body fluid exchange and skin to skin contact.
- Vaginal fluid
To prevent transmission of STIs a barrier needs to be used.
- Dams (a very fine latex sheet that can be placed over the vulva or anal area during oral sex).
MANY STIs HAVE NO SYMPTOMS
Regular STI testing is important and can also help to decrease transmission and help maintain your health for the long term. STIs do not go away without treatment and can have serious health consequences, including infertility and serious illness. Testing can be done at sexual health clinics, family planning clinics, or your GP.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON STI TRANSMISSION AND TESTING
PREVENTING UNPLANNED PREGNANCY
Pregnancy happens when a sperm and an egg meet and fertilisation occurs. Pregnancy can occur even with one act of sex, even if it’s your first time, during your period, and even if the male withdraws his penis from the vagina before he ejaculates (cums).
Contraception is used to prevent pregnancy. The methods of contraception available include:
- Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs.) LARCS are methods of contraception that are highly effective, work for a long time, need very little action by you, and are quickly reversible when you stop using them. LARCS include the contraceptive implant (the rod) and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
- Hormonal methods such as the pill and the contraceptive injection.
- Barrier methods-including the male or female condom (Condoms are the only contraceptive method that also protect you from STIs ).
To discuss contraception and which method might suit you see a doctor at SHFPACT or see your GP.
EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION (EC).
Emergency contraception can be used to reduce the risk of pregnancy after unprotected sex (this means where semen has entered the vagina, usually when no other form of contraception was used or where a method of contraception failed, such as a condom breaking or slipping off). There are two different types of EC tablets available:
Levonorgestrel EC. This is the most commonly used EC. It needs to be taken within 3 days of sexual activity. The sooner you take it the better because its effectiveness decreases over time.
In the ACT you can get Levonorgestrel EC free from the Walk in Centres (in Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and Belconnen); Canberra Sexual Health Centre (at The Canberra Hospital): and from the Junction Youth Health Service in civic. You can also get Levonorgestrel EC over the counter at most pharmacies for a cost of approximately $20 to $30 and from SHFPACT for a low cost.
Ellaone is the other EC available in tablet form, it is more effective than Levonorgestrel EC and is effective up to 5 days after the unprotected sex. Ella One is available from pharmacies for a cost of approximately $45. Call the pharmacy beforehand to make sure they have it.
The copper IUD can also be used as a very effective emergency contraception up to 5 days after the unprotected sex. For more information call SHFPACT on 02 62473077.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON CONTRACEPTION VISIT THE SHFPACT WEBSITE.
DO YOU NEED SOMEBODY TO TALK TO ABOUT SEXUAL HEALTH, LIFESTYLES OR RELATIONSHIPS?
THE SERVICES BELOW ARE ONLY A TEXT, CLICK OR CALL AWAY!
- Sexual Health & Family Planning ACT
For more information on STI transmission, testing, and contraception.
1st Floor, 28 University Ave, Canberra City ACT
Call 02 6247 3077
- Canberra Sexual Health Centre
For more information on STI transmission and testing
Canberra Hospital, 5 Gilmore Cres, Garran ACT
Call 5124 2184
- The Junction Youth Health Service
Free primary health care service for people aged 12 to 25 years old.
30 Scotts Crossing, Canberra City ACT
Call 02 6232 2423
- AIDS Action Council of the ACT
Building strong, connected and supportive communities that are free of new HIV transmissions, marginalisation, discrimination and stigma.
Havelock House, 85 Northbourne Avenue, Turner ACT
Call 02 6257 2855
- ACT Walk-in Centres
Tuggeranong: Anketell St & Pitman St, Greenway Call 13 22 81
Belconnen: 56 Lathlain St, Belconnen • Call 13 22 81
Gungahlin: Ernest Cavanagh Street, Gungahlin • Call 13 22 81
24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Call 13 11 14
- Headspace ACT
A national youth mental health foundation dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young Australians.
Call 02 6201 5343
- A Gender Agenda
A Gender Agenda works with intersex, transgender and gender diverse people, their friends, families and allies.
Call 02 6162 1924
- Canberra Rape Crisis Centre
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, you can get help and support.
Call 02 6247 2525