028: #askalexandra What is Safe Sex?
Ask, Answer & Get The Facts About Herpes
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Welcome to episode 28 of Life With Herpes! Here we are with another #AskAlexandra episode where I answer a question one of your sent to me. If you’ve been here before you know these are my favorite, favorite, favorite shows to do with you!
Do you have any questions of your own? Send them to me on LifeWithHerpes.com. When you’re on the web site scroll down to the bottom where you'll see the #AskAlexandra section and click. Fill out the Google form with your question. Remember you can remain anonymous if you want.
Now today’s question comes from Tom in San Diego. His question is simple: what is safe sex? Listen in to hear my answer - which is anything but simple! - on episode 28 of Life With Herpes.
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This is SUCH a great question, Tom! Thank you for sending it in. While at first glance defining safe sex may sound simple, but in reality, it is not.
We're all taught to use a condom and we are taught that passes as safe sex; we’re told we’ll be fine with a condom. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. And I learned this firsthand when I was teaching for Planned Parenthood when I was in high school. I went to different high schools to teach sex ed to the kids there, and I learned a lot! I found out the safest form of sex is abstinence. Now we all know that's unrealistic, but it's the safest form of protection against pregnancy and STDs.
So let's talk about what sex is and actually define sex and sexual activity: sex means vaginal, anal and oral sex. Sexual activity includes sex of course but it also includes foreplay that stimulates the genitals.
It's also important to practice safe sex consistently, even if you are having sex with the same partner. He or she could've been with someone else since you were last together, you really don't know. So use protection and use it for oral sex, anal sex and vaginal sex during every sexual encounter. Herpes and other STDs can be passed through oral sex so protection is necessary. Typically the different forms of protection include
- Oral sex with a condom (latex is safest), dental dam, or plastic wrap
- Vaginal sex with a male or female condom
- Anal sex with a male or female condom
The best form for preventing herpes is the female condom. Why? Because it's a much larger condom, it's much wider and it covers more space inside and out. It’s used by being inserted in the vaginal canal. The man doesn't use a condom, he inserts his penis into the female condom. There are drawbacks though: they are more complicated, they can fall out easier and you can still transmit herpes through areas that are not covered by the condom.
Which is why you should also use a condom during foreplay, you are touching each other's genitals and can come in contact with STDs like herpes. There is skin to skin contact and herpes can be passed that way, along with other STDs. And all STDs can be passed before, during or after sex.
Tweetable: “Looking out for your health and your partner’s health is sexy!” - Alexandra Harbushka
Safe sex also means taking precautions if you have cuts, sores, or bleeding gums; these can increase the risk of spreading HIV and other STDs. Again this includes oral sex. With oral sex, if you have or are receiving oral sex from someone with cuts, sores or bleeding gums, you need to be aware and take precautions.
Although it may not be the most comfortable conversation initially, you’ve got to remember this is about your health. And what could be sexier than looking out for your health and your partner's health? So ask to see their STD tests, offer to show yours and then talk about the results. And do this consistently, with every partner.
A big thanks to Tom from San Diego for this simple question with a big answer! If you want to be cool like Tom send me your question after you listen to episode 28 of Life With Herpes.