Stay safe this Summer
Planning to stay safe this Summer? While the past 12 months have seen us replace romantic restaurant dates with self-distancing walks and we’ve had to find new creative ways to enjoy sex from a distance, you can’t help but be a little excited about what’s to come. With lockdown easing and vaccinations underway, this year has been tipped to be a ‘hot vax Summer’; a period of freedom, fun and lots and lots of sex. While dating websites are becoming prepared with listing vaccination status (vaccinated / not yet vaccinated / prefer not to disclose), we thought we’d give you the low-down on staying safe this Summer.
Here’s how to enjoy Summer sex safely while preventing sexually transmitted infections with advice on contraceptive methods, consent and healthy relationships.
Sexually transmitted infections
If you’re planning to have Summer sex, then make sure you stay safe this Summer by wearing a condom. Condoms prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI) caused by a virus (or bacteria) passed from one person to another through having unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex as well as through skin-to-skin contact or sharing sex toys. The four most common sexually transmitted infections are chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and genital herpes but you can be just at risk of catching other sexually transmitted infections, like genital warts or pubic lice.
Sexually transmitted infections can often present no symptoms, but if you do have any, symptoms can range from unusual discharge, pain when having sex, pain or swelling of testicles, spotting during periods, soreness, pain when passing urine and sores or ulcers on the genitals or around the anal area.
While most sexually transmitted infections can be treated, without treatment they can lead to long-term health problems. Therefore we recommend having a sexually transmitted infection test after every partner or at least once a year. However, the best way to prevent yourself from catching an STI is by wearing a condom every time you indulge in Summer sex.
To prevent either pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections or both while enjoying Summer sex, it’s a good idea to use a method of contraception that suits your lifestyle. There are many different contraceptives to help you stay safe this Summer, and we’ve given you a recap of the methods that are available.
Barrier methods are a type of contraception that you use every time you have sex. Their job is to stop sperm coming into contact with the vagina as well as preventing sexually transmitted infections. Barrier methods include contraceptives like condoms, female condoms, diaphragm and the cap.
Long-acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
Long-acting reversible contraception are contraceptives that last between 12 weeks and 10 years. All of these methods are given at your local sexual health clinic or GP surgery. These include the depo, implant, intrauterine device (IUD) or Intrauterine system (IUS).
There are four main types of hormonal contraceptives that are either taken every day, replaced every week or placed just before sex. These include the combined pill, the mini pill, the patch and the vaginal ring.
This is a tablet that can be taken straight after having sex to help prevent pregnancy. You can buy it over the counter at pharmacies or get it free from your GP surgery or local sexual health clinic.
While you’re in the heat of the moment, remember that consent is vital while having sex or any form of sexual activity. Consent involves giving permission for something to happen and is an essential part of a healthy relationship. Both partners need to agree before taking part in sex or any other intimate activity. Consent has to be given freely and both parties need to be comfortable with making that decision while consent can be withdrawn at any stage.
Pressuring someone into sex or sexual activity is either ‘rape’ or ‘sexual assault’ and the consequences of not seeking consent can be very serious for everyone involved, including a prison sentence or criminal record or being put on the sex offending register. Therefore, if you’re planning to have Summer sex, make sure you and your partner are happy with taking part. If you are unsure if someone is consenting, make sure you ask them if it’s ok.
To find out more about consent to help keep you safe, visit www.disrespectnobody.co.uk
Healthy RelationshipsAnother way to stay safe this Summer is ensuring that you are in a healthy relationship. Being in a healthy relationship means both partners share good communication, mutual respect, trust, honesty, equality and you both feel comfortable being yourself. Being in a new relationship can make you feel excited and happy and it’s important to be mindful of any warning signs that may involve controlling, threatening or abusive behaviour, whether that’s physical, sexual, emotional, financial, psychological abuse.
If you’re having Summer sex and unsure whether you are in a healthy relationship, Family Lives offers a healthy relationship checklist - click here to view it.