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Dear Sexpert,

My partner and I are starting to get pretty serious. We’ve been together for quite a while. I don’t think I’m ready to have sex, but do I need to be doing anything to stop Sexually Transmitted Diseases if I’m not having normal sex?


Keepin’ it Clean

Dear Keepin’ it Clean,

To make sure we are speaking a common language, let’s think about the expression “normal sex.” In this context, you seem to refer to penetrative sex (i.e., penetration of a vagina or anus by a penis). Technically, there is no “normal sex” because there is a wide range of sexual activities, behaviors and preferences. What is “normal” or right for you may be very different from someone else’s experience. Ultimately, what’s right for you and your partner is what matters most!

Consider what you want to do before you find yourself in a situation that you aren't comfortable with. Practice expressing your desires and boundaries with your partner. If you need help, you can talk to your residential college adviser or a friend about their experiences. You can also talk to a peer health adviser, a resource trained to listen, talk with you and help you make personalized decisions about health and wellness, including sexual health.

From your question, I gather that your experience involves engaging in sexual activities other than penetrative sex (e.g., oral sex, manual sex, etc.) If that is correct, please know that there is a risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections through skin-to-skin contact or the exchange of bodily fluids. If engaging in penile-vaginal sex, appropriate protection, like an external (male) or internal (female) condom, will reduce the risk of transmitting STIs.

Alternatively, if one partner is performing oral sex on a penis, an external condom on the penis will reduce risk. Condoms are available in many flavors for this purpose. If one partner is performing oral sex on a vagina, a dental dam should be used. Dental dams are thin sheets of latex that provide a barrier between the mouth and vagina, or the mouth and anus (if performing oral sex on an anus) and also come in many flavors. Furthermore, if engaging in penile-anal sex, an external condom should always be used. If performing manual sex, using finger cots or gloves reduces risk. All of these methods separate bodily fluids from areas in which they could transmit infection.

If you need sexual health supplies, like condoms or dental dams, you can get them from PHAs and RCAs, or the LGBT Center. PHAs also have other protection supplies you might be interested in, like flavored lube and condoms in different colors and flavors. You can also get 10 free condoms from the front desk of McCosh Health Center on weekdays. Just remember: keep yourself protected, whatever activities you decide are right for you!

Always lookin’ out,

The Sexpert

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