New Year, New You; Safe Sex Practices

It’s a new year, a new decade, and you’re looking to redefine yourself. Why not start with putting your attention on your sexual health? 2020 is the year for safe sex. So how do you continue to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)? 

Let’s break it down. 

Female Birth Control

If you’re not looking to get pregnant, female birth control could be right for you. There are numerous options for females, such as a daily pill, a monthly injection, or an inserted device. 

Daily pills are small and taken orally. They are usually low doses of hormones that stop sperm from fertilizing an egg, stop ovulation (so there is no egg), and thickens the mucus in the cervix so sperm can’t get to an egg. 

The pill is extremely effective when taken at the same time every day.

Monthly injections provide similar results to the pill, except you don’t have to take it every day. The estrogen and progesterone hormones are injected into your upper arm, thigh or buttocks. They must be administered every month, as the hormones are flushed out of your system after 33 days. 

Inserted devices, such as an IUD (intrauterine device), is a small T-shaped piece of plastic or copper that is inserted into your uterus. They are 99% effective and can last for 3-6 years. The downside is they are invasive and have to be inserted and removed by a trained medical professional. They may or may not contain hormones. 

None of the female birth control methods listed above protect women from STDs. 

Male Birth Control

Male birth control is not as popularized as female: the condom is the top used form of birth control. It is highly effective at stopping pregnancy and the transmission of STDs when used correctly. 

When using a condom, it is important to place on before any sexual activity begins. Roll it all the way down the shaft of the penis and ensure it is the right size for you or your partner’s body. Never double up on protection. The added friction will increase the probability of the condom breaking. 

Safe Sex Advice

The easiest way to have safe sex is to know your status. Get tested and have your partner tested before engaging in any sexual activities. A majority of STDs are highly contagious and coming into contact with them can put you at a high risk for contracting the disease. Some STDs are incurable and can cause lifelong complications, such as infertility, rash outbreaks, or in very rare cases, death. 

If you want to skip the doctor’s office to be screened for an STD, that’s okay. SelfCollect offers at-home testing kits for various types of STDs. The tests are mailed to you in a discreet package. All collections are performed using painless swabs or urine collections; there is no need for bloodwork! Once you’ve taken the test, package it away in the prepaid envelope and it will be sent to SelfCollect’s CLIA certified, partner laboratory. 

Results are usually available within 3-5 business days and can be accessed securely online. 

If you and your partner are negative for STDs, you should still consider practicing safe sex. STDs are not always transferred through sexual activity; some can infect you by touching an open sore or lesion caused by the disease. Direct contact is always required, but it does not have to be transffered through the act of sex. 

You are still at risk for an STD if you participate in unprotected anal or oral sex. 

Communicate With Your Partner

Talking with your partner about each other’s STD status can be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is an important one to have. STDs are extremely common and you should not be ashamed if you have one. 

If you need advice on how to approach the topic with your partner, check out SelfCollect’s blog titled “How to Talk about STDs with Your Partner.” 

Talk with them about using protection too. Tell them if you’re on a form of birth control or prefer condoms. 

Always be open with your partner if you are unable to take your birth control correctly. Risking your own health is never worth avoiding a potentially awkward conversation. If your partner approaches you with this, be open and understanding! Remember, you can always run to the store to buy condoms if your partner agrees. 

It’s a new year; take it by the horns and have fun. Just remember to protect yourself as you reinvent yourself.