No one wants an STI (sexually transmitted infection), nevertheless STI rates have increased in Queensland, particularly in men who have sex with men.
It’s time to say no and Stop the Rise of STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.
PrEP is great. One daily pill decreases the risk of contracting HIV and its introduction has lowered infection rates.
But PrEP does not protect against STIs. Luckily, safer sex practices do and can be used in conjunction with PrEP.
Of course, abstinence from sex will protect us against STIs just as not eating will protect us from food poisoning but starving ourselves of either food or intimacy is not an option for most of us.
However, we can protect ourselves from STIs by talking to sexual partners, protecting against infection and having regular sexual health tests.
The most effective practical way of protecting against STIs is the use of the humble condom. Condoms are cheap, effective and accessible.
Gone are the days when one slunk awkwardly into a chemist shop to nervously whisper a request for a packet of prophylactics. You can find them now in service stations, supermarkets, vending machines and often free at sexual health service providers.
Condoms and dental dams protect against STI’s during anal and oral sex or when sharing sex toys. Because some STIs are spread by skin-to-skin contact, you need to provide a barrier against the infection.
There are not always visible signs of an STI, so condoms and dams are the surest way of decreasing the risk.
Unfortunately, we no longer get much education in the proper use of condoms. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, porn movies often included a short before the main feature showing the correct use of condoms.
In the 80s and 90s sexual health educators regularly demonstrated the correct use on sex toys, cucumbers, bananas and other penis shaped objects.
In modern porn, condoms appear like magic when needed. There’s a wave of the magic wand and — Hey Presto! It’s wearing latex.
Don’t wait until the time comes you need a condom to learn how to use it. You don’t want to ruin the moment or decrease the effectiveness by struggling to put it on.
We’ve included a guide for correct condom usage at the end of the article so take a bit of time out to practice.
Grab some condoms, some water-based lube and the nearest penis shaped object you can lay your hand on — your penis will do just fine — and have fun becoming an expert or learn with a friend.
If a condom does break or come off during sex, it’s time for a quick PEP talk. Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) reduces the risk of HIV infection after exposure and is available from the Emergency Departments of most public hospitals in Queensland and sexual health clinics.
It’s important to seek medical advice quickly as treatment should ideally start within 24 hours and no later than 72 hours after the infection. It’s also worthwhile having a sexual health check.
The sooner an STI is detected, the sooner and more effectively it can be treated.
Remember that while bottoms are more at risk of HIV during unprotected sex, STIs do not discriminate and both partners are at equal risk. Condoms will minimise that risk.
CHECK the use-by date on the packet when you purchase condoms and on individual condoms before use. Store your condoms in a cool dry place.
SQUEEZE the wrapper. Air is introduced into the wrapper before sealing so if you don’t feel an air bubble, discard that condom and use another.
TEAR the wrapper open at a corner with your fingers. Do not use fingernails, teeth, scissors or a whipper-snipper. All of those can damage the condom. Condom wrappers generally have serrated edges on the sides designed to tear. If you have difficulty opening a wrapper, check you’re tearing from one of those sides. Tear at the corner, not the middle, to avoid damage to the condom.
LOOK at which way the condom is rolled. Hold the condom with the reservoir tip up toward you and slide a fingertip over it. If you feel a lip on the outer edge, the condom is right-side-out. On the rare occasion it is inside out, gently blow it right-side-out.
DON’T unroll it. You’ll ruin the moment struggling to get it on and lessen its effectiveness.
ENSURE the penis is fully erect. You want a snug fit.
ROLL the condom down the entire length of the penis, while pinching the reservoir tip to expel air.
For oral sex, you are now good to go.
For anal sex, you need to apply a water-based lube to the condom.
Do not use oil-based lubes, massage oils or petroleum products. They will damage the condom. Unlike water-based lube, they are also difficult to remove from the anus after sex.
Apply more water-based lube to the anus. Coat the skin around the anus and the walls of the anal canal by inserting a lube covered finger into the rectum. It can be difficult to put on a condom with slippery lube covered hands, so either the condom should be put on first, or the other partner takes care of lubing the anus.
Toys also require a condom and lube. If the toy is shared during sex, it will require a fresh condom for each partner. Small vibrating toys can be effective for relaxing the muscles of the rectum and allowing easier entry to a penis.
During sex, check the condom every so often for breaks. If it breaks or comes off, replace it.
Remove the condom immediately after ejaculation while the penis is still hard. Grasp it at the base to prevent spillage, tie in a knot, wrap in toilet paper and place in the garbage. Do not throw in the toilet. They do not flush easily and clog up septic systems.
NEVER reuse a condom.
For more information check out: http://qld.gov.au/stoptherise
Thanks to our campaign partner: Queensland Health