Barrier Methods and Safer Sex: All Your Questions Answered

Barrier Methods and Safer Sex: All Your Questions Answered

Posted By Javay- The Millennial Sexpert
Barrier Methods and Safer Sex: All Your Questions Answered

If you open social media or news outlets you may see a lot of posts and headlines talking about the rise of STIs, but there is little information that talks about safer sex or how to minimize the spread of STIs. That shouldn’t be the case so we figured we should answer some common questions about safer sex and barrier methods as hot girl (gay/they/thot) summer is heating up and we are all making our way outside for some fun and frivolity. Here are ten common questions that you may have had and were unsure where to ask or even afraid to ask.

Can you get an STI if you engage in sex with another vulva, and you have a vulva?

Yes, you can get an STI from engaging in sexual activity with all body types. STIs are transmitted in multiple ways from bodily fluids, like discharge and ejaculation, through kissing, and through direct skin-to-skin contact. So even if you both have the same genitals STIs are still transmissible.

Do you need barrier methods for oral sex?

Using barrier methods during oral sex is encouraged just as with penetrative sexual activity. Though barrier methods for oral sex are not as common, it can still be practiced, but the decision is up to partners. STIs can be transmitted through oral sex. If you are wondering what barrier methods are available, you have external condoms for blowjobs, dental dams and Lorals latex underwear for oral sex of the vulva and the anus.

How should you pick a barrier method?

Deciding on a barrier method is an individual choice and should be based on the activities you and your partner(s) are engaging in. The various options include: latex gloves and finger cots for digital and manual stimulation (fingering and fisting), external condoms, which go on the penis, internal condoms, which go inside the vaginal canal or anus and cover some of the vulva and anus, dental dams, which are held in place during oral stimulation, and Lorals latex underwear, which are FDA-approved thin-latex underwear that can be worn during non-penetrative sexual activity.

Are barrier methods the same as birth control?

Yes and no. Some barrier methods do prevent pregnancy, but they are not the same as other forms of contraceptives which prevent pregnancy through medication. Internal and external condoms are barrier methods that are birth control because they prevent sperm from meeting and fertilizing an egg.

What happens if the barrier method comes off during sexual activity?

If a barrier method comes off during sexual activity, you should stop the activity and check in with your partner. Do you feel comfortable getting another barrier method and continuing or would you rather stop? If you are worried about potential pregnancy, you can go and get an emergency contraceptive pill. Most pharmacies and grocery stores carry them (and fun fact: Costco sells them for $8 and you don’t need a Costco membership).

Who is responsible for being prepared with the barrier method?

The responsibility of being prepared with barrier methods is the responsibility of all parties involved, not just one person or another. If you are interested in a specific activity that uses a certain barrier method, you should have it with you. If you have any allergies to barrier methods, having methods you know you can use without the risk of an allergic reaction is important to not impact your sexy time.

What is the safest form of sex?

The safest form of sex you can have is sex with yourself, aka masturbation. This is the safest form, because there is a low chance of STI transmission, unless you are using sex toys that were previously used by someone else. There is no chance of pregnancy. If you are looking for a safer form of partnered activity mutual masturbation, partners masturbating at the same time, but not stimulating each other. Sexual activity with another person always carries a risk, be it STIs, pregnancies, or just catching the cold from them and that is a reality of engaging with others.

Do you have to talk about STI testing if you use barrier methods?

It is recommended to still discuss when the last time you had STI testing was with a partner, even if you all are going to use barrier methods, because no method is 100% effective. Some STIs are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and no barrier method fully covers all the skin, so discussing STI testing gives everyone the opportunity to make a fully informed choice about engaging in sexual activity. Discussing STI testing also shows that you respect your partner in being direct and having an honest conversation. 

How effective are barrier methods?

 The efficacy of barrier methods is dependent on how properly they are used, but:

  • External Condoms - 87% effective at preventing pregnancy with typical use.
  • Internal Condoms - 79% effective at preventing pregnancy with typical use.

Do you have to use barrier methods on sex toys?

  • Using barrier methods on sex toys is up to the person(s) using them. If you are sharing toys between partners (in a relationship) it is encouraged. Using barrier methods on sex toys is also a great option if you want to minimize the cleanup. You can use external condoms on insertable toys like dildos and vibrators and you can wear Lorals latex underwear when using external toys like a bullet or a suction toy.

We hope that these questions helped you to understand barrier methods and safer sex a little more. And don’t be embarrassed for having questions. Most of us haven’t had sex education that made space for us to ask our questions, so it’s important to make that space for each other and ourselves to live pleasurable lives. As always these articles are meant for advice, if you are experiencing any symptoms or complications, please consult a physician.

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