10 Ways to Make Safe Sex Fun


You know safe sex is necessary, but can it be fun, too? Add some excitement with colorful condoms, fuzzy handcuffs and new positions and locations.
You know safe sex is necessary, but can it be fun, too? Add some excitement with colorful condoms, fuzzy handcuffs and new positions and locations.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Intimacy, orgasms, genital herpes, chlamydia, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS … sex today is a complicated mix of pleasure and pain. What are we to do, if not abstain? Become wise in the ways of safe sex.

Let's be clear on one thing first. We're talking about safer sex, not safe sex, and that's an important distinction. There's no such thing as 100 percent safe sex, but there are ways to make sex safer -- safer from infections, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancy.

Estimates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that Americans are contracting 19 million new STD infections each year [source: Allen]. Some STDs such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV) can be passed to a partner through skin contact, not just intercourse. An ABC News "Primetime Live" poll that asked Americans about their sexual habits found that 47 percent of single adults under the age of 30 worry about becoming infected with HIV/AIDS or another STD [source: ABC News]. And as it turns out, they have cause to worry. The CDC finds that genital herpes, for example, affects about one in six Americans over the age of 14, making it one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in America [source: Allen].

If statistics like that make you feel unsexy, pay attention. Practicing safe sex doesn't have to mean sex becomes less fun or won't feel as good. It's all the pleasure and (hopefully) none of the disease. First, let's talk about one of the best ways to make sex safer: using condoms.

10

Use Condoms

Use a condom: the clarion call of safe sex. We've been inundated with slogans such as "No glove, no love." Condoms reduce the risk of transmitting sexually transmitted diseases, but no form of contraception can offer 100 percent protection. They reduce transmission of HIV by 85 percent and genital herpes by about 30 percent. Studies vary on how effective (or not so effective) condoms are at protecting you from syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, but those studies do show that condoms offer some level of protection [sources: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Reinberg].

But that's when you use them consistently, from beginning to end, and not just for part of the act. Condom usage among unmarried Americans ages 15 to 44 is at about 14 percent [source: CDC]. We can do better than that, especially since so many varieties line the shelves. Choose flavored, colored, ribbed, lubricated, you name it, and it's probably out there for you, including various sizes and shapes, too. You can even cut open condoms and use them as dental dams for safe oral sex with women.

Allergic or sensitive to latex? Don't give up on condoms. Versions made from polyurethane, not latex, are available. While they're considered less effective in minimizing your risk of spreading or contracting STDs -- their comparative effectiveness is still being studied -- they are considerably better protection than no condom at all.

9

Use a Lubricant

Wetter is better, especially when it comes to sex. Vaginal lubrication is key to sexual pleasure for both men and women, and sometimes there just isn't enough. If sex is too dry, it can cause irritation and pain. Enter lube.

Lubricant comes in a few forms: water-based, silicone-based and oil-based. Water- and silicone-based lubes are the best with condoms. Never use an oil-based lubricant with a condom -- the oil will interact with the latex and cause it to break down.

You can purchase lubricants in a variety of flavors, from spicy to sweet; there are options for the chocoholics out there, too. Some cause warming sensations, some make you tingle, and if you're looking for an icy blast, pick up a cooling lube.

8

Get Tested

OK, so getting testing for STDs is neither fun nor sexy, but knowing you're infection-free can go a long way to easing any anxiety you may have about sexual performance or disease transmission. Anxiety doesn't make sex fun.

Be sure to schedule regular (annual) checkups with your doctor to be sure your body is running in tip-top condition from head to toe, including your sexual and reproductive health. Women -- whether hetero- or homosexual -- should visit their gynecologists annually. Those visits should include pelvic exams and Pap smears to help detect bacterial and viral STDs so you can get treatment, if needed.

While no routine STD testing for men -- like the Pap for women -- exists, the CDC does recommend that men who have sex with men get tested annually for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. And anyone who has nonmonogamous, unprotected sex should have an annual HIV screening.

7

Build the Anticipation

When you want to spice up your sex life, try setting the mood with candles or leaving a flirtatious message for your partner.
When you want to spice up your sex life, try setting the mood with candles or leaving a flirtatious message for your partner.
Hemera/Thinkstock

Having sex is fun, but so are all the things that lead up to the act itself. We're talking about all the things that aren't penetrative sex -- and by sex, we mean vaginal intercourse, oral sex and anal sex.

Use your seduction skills by leaving a sexy voicemail or text message for your partner, detailing what you have in store for him or her after work, or what you'd like to have done to you.

Also, take the time to set the mood -- both the mood of the room and your partner's mood. Light candles or unwind with a massage. Take the time to enjoy your partner's body by exploring and teasing -- put an emphasis on foreplay. And with good reason -- the Journal of Sexual Medicine reports that the "optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse [is] 3 to 13 minutes" [source: USA Today].

6

Get Out of the Bedroom

Sleep experts recommend we use our beds only for sleep and sex. But what if we just used our beds for sleep? Add a little bit of naughtiness to your sex life by trying out new locations for your sexual exploits.

In 2004, an ABC News "Primetime Live" poll found that 57 percent of Americans have had sex in a public place or outside, and 12 percent have had sex where they work. Are you among the sexually adventurous who have sex outside the bedroom? Whether it's in the shower, on the couch or in a secluded but still public spot -- make sure it's secluded or risk an indecent exposure charge -- sex can be more fun when you feel like you're misbehaving.

5

Try New Positions

There's nothing wrong with a favorite, go-to position that makes your toes curl, but there's also nothing wrong with breaking out of your habit and spicing things up with a new position. Maybe not all of the 64 sexual activities described in the Kama Sutra are your taste, but something as simple as switching who gets to be on top (or side or behind) can increase pleasure and sensation. The angle of penetration that a new position may offer might just add to your enjoyment, and trying something new with your partner may increase your intimacy with each other.

While that new position may not work out, it will still be fun to try something out of the ordinary. And if at first you don't succeed ...

4

Make a Toy Box

The television show "Sex and the City" is famous for many things, including making the Rabbit vibrator a hot commodity, but if you haven't yet explored the world of sex toys, consider incorporating them into your sexual escapades to increase pleasure and intimacy with your partner.

To find toys, visit a local store to check out options, or browse discreetly online to see what might be right for your tastes. Fill your box with items -- think vibrators, dildos, feathers, massage oils, flavored or warming/cooling lubricants and a rainbow of condoms -- that will enhance the sexual experience for both you and your partner. Keep it in the bedroom, under the bed or in a nightstand for easy access.

Remember to use condoms and give your toys a good scrub after use to avoid bacterial infections and STDs. Some toys, such as glass, stainless steel and silicone ones, are dishwasher safe. Stick to antibacterial soap and water when cleaning hard plastics, though.

3

Share Your Fantasies

Is there something you've always wanted to try but haven't? Or maybe your partner has some fantasies that you haven't explored? Talk about what you have in mind and see what you're both comfortable with.

Fifty-one percent of people surveyed in the ABC News "Primetime Live" poll admitted they talk to their partners about their sexual fantasies, and of those who share fantasies with their partners, 44 percent are happy about their exciting sex lives. Whether it's role-playing or costumes, trust us: You're unlikely to be distracted about whether or not a condom feels good when your partner is dressed up in something sexy.

2

Engage in Sex Play

According to recent surveys, 42 percent of Americans consider themselves adventurous in bed, and among the 55 percent of people surveyed who considered their sex lives to be traditional, three in 10 want to be more adventurous [source: ABC News]. So how do you up the excitement?

While it's not for everyone, engaging in sex play can add a little extra adventure and excitement to safer sex. Whether it's sex games like a few rounds of strip poker, an adult version of truth or dare, some light bondage with a blindfold and handcuffs (or a men's tie), or a little whipped cream, sex play can break you out of vanilla sex and heighten both pleasure and sensation.

1

Focus on Pursuing Pleasure and Intimacy

Having a fulfilling sex life requires intimacy and trust, which kissing helps build.
Having a fulfilling sex life requires intimacy and trust, which kissing helps build.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Focusing on the trust and intimacy you're building with your partner, rather than worrying about unplanned pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease, lowers your anxiety level and makes your sexual experiences more fun. Kissing and orgasms both increase the level of oxytocin, a chemical our brains release that causes us to feel good and helps build long-lasting attachments.

Keep a positive attitude about safe sex -- if you go into the experience expecting it to be less than stellar because it's safe, your attitude itself may ruin your fun.

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Sources

  • ABC News. "The American Sex Survey: A Peek Beneath the Sheets." Oct. 21, 2004. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/959a1AmericanSexSurvey.pdf
  • Allen, JoAnne. "U.S. herpes rates remain high -- CDC." Reuters. March 9, 2010. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0923528620100309
  • American Latex Allergy Association. "Nonlatex vs Latex Condoms: An Update." 2010. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.latexallergyresources.org/resourcemanual/Section9/latexCondoms.cfm
  • The Berman Center. PRNewswire. "New Study on Female Sexuality Reveals Increased Use of Sexual Aids by Women." Sept. 13, 2004. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-study-on-female-sexuality-reveals-increased-use-of-sexual-aids-by-women-72201517.html
  • Brown University Health Education. "Sex Toys." (Oct. 1, 2010) http://brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/sexual_health/sexuality/sex_toys.php
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Sexually Transmitted Diseases." July 14, 2010. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.cdc.gov/STD/
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  • Pillay, Srini. "Debunking Myths of the Mind: Overcoming the Anxiety of Vanilla Sex." Psychology Today. Sept. 15, 2010. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/debunking-myths-the-mind/201009/overcoming-the-anxiety-vanilla-sex
  • Reinberg, Steven. "Condoms May Reduce Herpes Risk." US News and World Report. July 13, 2009. (Oct. 6, 2010) http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/sexual-and-reproductive-health/articles/2009/07/13/condoms-may-reduce-herpes-risk.html
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