Just the tips: A straightforward guide to safe sex and good etiquette

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BEFORE

Communicate: Ensure all partners are consenting. Sex should be an enjoyable activity for everyone involved. You should feel neither obligated or entitled to have sex with another person. You and your partner should be affirmatively and enthusiastically consenting to sex; it’s better to play it safe if one or both of you are intoxicated. Once you’re both on the same page, consider some flirty/dirty talk about what turns you on.

Hygiene: This doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is essential. Brush your teeth and tongue, keep your nails well-groomed, and scrub yourself down with soap and water (Ladies: do NOT use soap on your vagina or douche unless you’re looking for a UTI). Body hair can be maintained to your preferred aesthetic, whether you like it smooth and bare or wild and free. Clean any toys with warm water and soap.

Wrap it up: Protection is a must. Even if you or your partner are on birth control, condoms prevent STDs, STIs, and accidental pregnancy. They also make post-deed cleanup a breeze. You never know what your new sexual partner might have, as a number of sexual ailments like HPV or herpes simplex one and two can lie dormant or otherwise not present with obvious symptoms. Play it safe!

Fun fact: You can make a great dental dam for cunnilingus by cutting a condom length-wise.

Anal lovers: Anal tissue is very prone to micro-tears. Wearing a condom or latex glove lessens the risk of tearing and prevents the transmission of diseases/infections.

Toys: Use unlubricated condoms on porous or jelly toys (not necessary when you’re rolling solo)

Birth control: Some methods of birth control are rendered ineffective if you are on antibiotics or overweight. Hormones affect everyone differently; consult with your doctor to find your best fit.

Know your body: Take some time to experiment with your own body, and see what turns you on. Consider using a sex toy like a vibrator, dildo, or beads so you can get to know yourself inside and out. 😉

DURING

Communicate: Great sex involves a lot of communication between you and your partner(s), whether it be a simple “slow down” or an emphatic “YES, YES! OH MY GOD, JUST LIKE THAT! DON’T STOP!” Don’t be afraid to ask for anything. Try to be open minded about your partner’s kinks, even if you don’t necessarily share them.

Sex shouldn’t hurt. Unless, of course, you’re into that. If you experience unwanted pain during sex, it means you and/or your partner might be doing something wrong. Try longer foreplay sessions, different positions, and a LOT of lube. If it persists, don’t be afraid to discuss the issue with your doctor.

Fun fact: Pillows are your new secret weapon. If you are the bottom partner in missionary or doggy style, put them under your hips/knees to give your partner a better angle and prevent fatigue.

Fun fact: If you have a sensitive gag reflex, breathe through your nose when giving oral. Don’t panic — just slow down and breathe deeply, or take a break if you need to.

Experiment: Have fun learning about each other’s bodies. Orgasms are fun but not mandatory for good sex, though you should certainly strive for them! If you cannot achieve orgasm, DO NOT FAKE IT. Instead, address possible reasons for why you might not be having them with your partner(s).

AFTER

Communicate: Aftercare is important. Spend some time being intimate with your partner(s), and talk about what did and didn’t work for you. Enjoy the glow.

Clean up: Go to the bathroom after you have sex and urinate immediately. Urinary tract infections are seriously unpleasant and easy to contract.

Get tested: Even if you use protection, it’s important to get tested after an encounter with a new partner. The earlier something is caught, the better your chances of successful treatment. Ask your doctor what the test covers, as many don’t test for all STIs and STDs that are still easy to contract.

Accidents happen. If a condom breaks or you have an unwanted/unexpected encounter, the morning after pill can be bought over-the-counter and is effective for the first 72 hours, though it is most effective when taken early.

Now what? At your own pace, consider what you would like to happen between you and your partner(s). Relationships come in myriad forms (monogamy, polyamory, open, friends with benefits, dom/sub, etc.) and are not one-size-fits-all. Ensure you are able to recognize warning signs for abusive relationships. No matter what happens between you, be respectful and considerate. 

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