Ten Tips for Smart and Safer Sex
Adapted from SmarterSex.org (2002).
1. Talk smart sex first, then have smart sex later.
If you can’t talk about sex, you shouldn’t be having sex! Be straightforward about
your sexual intentions and limits so that all partners know what to expect. Besides, it is
much easier to be rational and reasonable before sex than in “the heat of the moment!”
2. Two are better than one!
All contraceptives, like the pill and patch, are better when used in combination
with another form of birth control, like a condom. Keep in mind that condoms are the
ONLY birth control method that reduces the risk of both an unplanned pregnancy and
STIs! If your partner won’t use protection, then you may want to re-think your relationship. Is a few minutes of fun without a barrier worth the major consequences
that can follow?
3. Do not feel pressured to have sex!
If you do not want to have sex, you DO NOT HAVE TO! (Even if you feel like
“everybody’s doing it,” which they aren’t)! Remember, sex is about a CONSENSUAL
PARTNERSHIP. NO ONE should feel pressured to have sex just to please their partner
4. Don’t have sex while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Alcohol is the drug that leads to the most HIV infections, not heroin! This is
because alcohol lowers inhibitions, good decision making skills, which means people are
less likely to use a barrier (i.e. condom, oral dam, etc.) at all, or if one is used, it’s used
incorrectly. Alcohol also makes sex less enjoyable for both men and women!
5. Use the buddy system.
When going out, go with friends and keep an eye out for each other.
Always tell someone that you came with if you do choose to leave with another person
that you did not come with. Trust your judgment and gut instincts and don’t worry
about hurting someone’s feelings: if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right! Remember, if you or a friend has been drinking or using drugs, judgment and instincts
aren’t what they would be if sober.
6. Don’t forget to ASK!!
Ask the other person you want to have sex with if they want to have sex (no matter what type of sex). Be clear about your limits and remember that “NO” means NO, but
you have to ASK FIRST! The absence of a “no” does not mean “yes”! Remember that “no” means NO and that passed out does not mean yes! Being drunk is not a defense for committing sexual assault! If you are too drunk/drugged to understand the person or
you know that a person is too drunk/drugged to have sex, DO NOT have sex with them,
it could be considered rape. In the state of Ohio, no one under the influence of
alcohol or other drugs can legally consent to sexual activity. Therefore, if someone is
under the influence, s/he cannot legally consent to sexual activity in Ohio!
7. Respect the fact that everyone has the right to make her/his own personal
decision(s) about sexual activity, including you!
It is everyone’s right to decide when and how they have sex, whether it’s their
first or four-hundredth time. There is no ideal age or “deadline” that a person must have
sex by. If your partner is not ready to have sex, respect and be supportive of their decision; do not push them to have sex!
8. Be prepared for a sex emergency.
Carry two condoms with you just in case you do not put one on correctly or tear
one while opening it. It is both partner’s responsibility to make sure that they are practicing safer sex and should work together to make that happen. It is just as
important, if not more important, for women to know how to put on and use condoms as it is for men! Remember: STIs can be transmitted through oral, vaginal and anal sex so always use a barrier for every single sex act!
9. The best protection does not mean less affection!
Abstinence is the ONLY 100% effective way to prevent STIs and an unplanned
pregnancy! Being intimate does not mean that you have to have sex; there are many other ways to be intimate with your partner. If you are not ready to talk about sex and deal with the potential consequences of sex, like an unplanned pregnancy and/or STIs, you are not ready to have sex!
10. Make sexual health a priority.
Even if you are not sexually active, but especially if you are, both men and women need to have regular check-ups to make sure they are sexually healthy. Women need to have annual gynecological exams; however, having an annual pap smear does not mean
that women are automatically screened for STIs. In order to be screened for STIs, one needs to specifically ask for it.