Contributed by Tyler Achilles, B.A.
Ahhh, Valentine’s Day. By now you’ve seen countless articles, advice columns, and feature stories highlighting the perfect gift for your girlfriend or boyfriend, the best things to do with your friends if you don’t have a significant other, or the downright absurdity that commercialization brings to the holiday. But so far I haven’t seen anyone talking about that “special time” that’s sure to be on the rise during V-Day. SEX. Yup, I said it. I haven’t seen or read one thing about sex leading up to today, and I think it’s important to share a few pointers about being savvy and safer when it comes to sex, especially for you crazy college kids.
While these next few tips will keep you safer when sexually active, please note that being safer starts with taking responsibility for your own protection (as Steve Lux points out in the comments section). Never rely solely on someone else to take all the necessary precautions before engaging in sex. Now on to the goods …
Have “the talk” with your partner. Having “the talk” about safe sex with your partner can be as awkward as having it with your parents, and the anxiety it can bring doesn’t make it easy. But it’s so important for your physical health and your relationship to set expectations before you’re rolling around in the sheets. Even if you haven’t been together long or it’s just a casual encounter, you should definitely try to size up the situation. Everyone likes to pretend that sexually transmitted infections (STI) magically appear out of nowhere, but the truth is you could be getting a lot more from hooking up than you thought. Talking with your partner is the first step to being safer. Check out more tips below.
Condoms, condoms, condoms. Using a condom the right way each and every time you have sex is the best way to prevent STIs. Keep them handy at all times. Having them readily available makes it more likely you’ll use them, and that means avoiding awkward and disruptive trips to ask your roommate or to the pharmacy around the corner. Total buzzkill.
Get tested with your partner on a regular basis. Some STIs don’t have any symptoms, so getting tested is the best way to find out if you need treatment and to make sure you’re not passing something on to someone else without even knowing it. Most campus health centers conduct STI testing for free or a small fee. If you can’t afford the fee (hey, you’re a student after all), then check out local free clinics. It’s as simple as making an appointment and showing up.
Think ahead. Do you know what to do if the condom breaks or you get really drunk and have unprotected sex? Using condoms with another method, finding out how to get emergency contraception before you need it, and knowing where to go for other resources can help you avoid a scary situation down the line. Moreover …
Don’t do it drunk. That’s not to say that you can’t have a few drinks – hey, it may help you loosen up and may even make sex more enjoyable. But don’t go crazy. The likelihood that you’ll have unprotected sex will increase with the more drinks you have, especially for women. Setting limits on booze will help keep you safer (and help you get the most out of getting it on). Finally …
Stay healthy in general. Eating right and getting enough sleep will help you fight off diseases, including the ones that hit down below.
Do you have any other tips to share? Write a comment in the section below. Click here for more Sexy & Savvy posts.