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.

You will need

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

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.

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.

Step 3 Ask about high-risk behaviors Ask about high-risk behaviors like intravenous drug use, anal sex, and sex with prostitutes.

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.

Step 5 Use spermicide Use a spermicide–or a condom with a spermicidal lubricant–for further protection against pregnancy. Follow the product’s directions.

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.

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.

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.

Step 9 Be consistent Check for STD annually, even if you think you’re in a monogamous relationship.