How to Have Safe Sex

You love getting it on—but in this day and age, who knows what’s lurking in your partner’s bloodstream? Nobody. Here’s how to stay safe.


Up next in How to Have a Safe & Healthy Sex Life (5 videos)

If you're sexually active, check out these Howcast videos. You'll learn how to have safe sex; how to get tested for STDs; how to ask your partner to get tested for STDs; how to tell your date you have an STD; and more.

You Will Need

  • FDA-approved latex or polyurethane condoms
  • Spermicide
  • Some water-based personal lubricant
  • Female condom
  • And a dental dam or plastic wrap


  1. Step 1

    Have condoms on hand

    Condoms are the best defense against STDs--keep them on hand. Make sure you have some polyurethane condoms, too, in case your partner is allergic to latex.

  2. Make sure your condoms are useable. If they’ve been exposed to excessive heat or light--or are just plain old--they may be damaged and unsafe.

  3. Step 2

    Exchange sexual histories

    Exchange sexual histories with your partner before sex. Have either of you had an STD? Ask about incurable diseases such as HIV, genital herpes, and Human Papilloma virus.

  4. Step 3

    Ask about high-risk behaviors

    Ask about high-risk behaviors like intravenous drug use, anal sex, and sex with prostitutes.

  5. Remember, people often lie about sex.

  6. Step 4

    Put on condom

    When everyone’s ready, unroll a condom over the tip of the erect penis after pulling back any foreskin. Pinch the top half-inch of the condom to prevent air bubbles and leave room for ejaculate.

  7. Step 5

    Use spermicide

    Use a spermicide--or a condom with a spermicidal lubricant--for further protection against pregnancy. Follow the product’s directions.

  8. Step 6

    Hold condom when ejaculating

    When the man ejaculates, he should hold the condom firmly at the base so it stays put and fluids don’t leak out.

  9. Applying a water-based lubricant to the vagina or anus can help keep the condom from breaking. Avoid oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly and baby oil, which can weaken latex.

  10. Step 7

    Use a dental dam

    If you plan on performing oral-to-vaginal or oral-to-anal sex, make sure you use a dental dam.If you don’t have one on hand, you can use non-microwaveable plastic wrap instead.

  11. Step 8

    Monitor yourself

    After the encounter, monitor yourself for symptoms of STDs, which include burning or itching sensations, unusual discharge, and the appearance of sores or growths around your genitals.

  12. It can take two or three days for symptoms to appear, and some STDs cause no symptoms at all.

  13. Step 9

    Be consistent

    Check for STD annually, even if you think you're in a monogamous relationship.

  14. Al Capone, Charles Baudelaire, Franz Schubert, and Friedrich Nietzsche all died of syphilis.