Safe sex, also referred to as protected sex is a way to enjoy sex while reducing the possibility of unwanted pregnancy and catching sexually-transmitted infections. Healthcare officials believe that all forms of sex carry some kind of risk and the only foolproof safety method is complete abstinence. Since this is usually not possible, you can practice certain precautions while having sex.
 Why should I be aware of this?
Safe sex means being smart and staying healthy. It means showing love, concern, and respect for partners and for self. Safe sex means enjoying sex to the fullest without transmitting, or acquiring, sexually related infections. There are numerous sexually transmissible diseases; the consequences of some, like HIV and syphilis, may be deadly. All of them are caused by microorganisms which pass between partners during particular sexual activities. Safe sex means reducing the chance of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.
 How does this affect me?
It has been observed that most STD cases occur to people in the 15-24 age group (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1993). It is said that, if you're young and doing it, your odds are about one in three of getting an STD by age 24 (Kaiser Family Foundation, Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America, 1998). And when it comes to HIV, as many as half of all new HIV infections occur among those younger than age 25.( CDC Young People at Risk: HIV/AIDS Among America's Youth, 1999). If you have had lots of sexual partners, or your partner has, you're increasing your risk of getting exposed to STDs.
If you and your partner are monogamous, then your chances of being exposed to STD are much less. If you and your partner have recently been tested for STD and have periodic check ups for such occurrences, then both of you are safer.
 All about safe sex
 Risk associated With Various Sexual Activities
Various sexual activities have different degrees of risk associated with them. While hugging, kissing, touching and mutual masturbation are no risk activities, unprotected vaginal intercourse and anal intercourse are high risk activities. Oral sex in its various forms is a low risk activity but it is not very safe either.
The main rule to remember is to avoid exchanging bodily fluids such as blood, semen, precum and vaginal fluids. These fluids can get into the body through the linings of the vagina and the anus, the tip of the penis and through open sores and cuts. In the mouth they can enter through cuts and ulcers.
Oral sex should be avoided, if a person has mouth ulcers or bleeding gums or if either of the two parties has just cleaned their teeth. It is suggested that you use a condom or dental dam for oral sex to reduce this risk. It is also suggested that you avoid getting semen in your mouth. If you swallow semen any virus will be killed by stomach acids, though it can enter open wounds before it gets there. Anal Intercourse is a high risk activity. There is danger to both people here as the virus can travel in either direction through pre-cum, cum and blood. The virus cannot get through a condom. Using condoms properly is the best protection if you are having anal intercourse.
Vaginal Intercourse has the same risks as anal intercourse. Use a condom. Most HIV+ people in the world have been infected this way. It is advised that people can call a counsellor to discuss the risks involved in other sexual activities.
 How does one get infected?
While STD’s such as Chalmydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomoiasis, Genital Herpes are infections of the genital area that spread through unprotected oral, anal and vaginal sex, others such as Syphillis start in the genital area and spread throughout the body. Hepititis B, though is an infection of liver, it spreads through kissing, oral, anal and vaginal sex and infected needles. But the most dangerous and fatal of all is HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus which causes AIDS. It can spread through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk - in other words, during unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, by sharing contaminated needles, via pregnancy or breast feeding. If your partner is infected with HIV or another STD, or you don’t know your partner’s sexual history, the safest sexual activities include:
- Fantasizing or having phone sex
- Touching your own body erotically (masturbation) or having each partner touch his or her own body (mutual masturbation)
- Caressing your partner using nonsexual massage
- Rubbing against your partner’s body with clothes on
 What can I do?
 Precautions for Safe Sex
Safe sex doesn’t mean a celibate life. It means making the smart choice to stay healthy. It means showing care and concern for your partner and for yourself.
- Communicate with your partner. Talk about your expectations from the sexual relationship. Both you and your partner need to be on the same page as far as ‘why you’re having sex’ is concerned. If you’re in it for the long haul and your partner is simply out to have a roll in the hay, you have mismatched expectations – a recipe for disaster, perhaps in the form of an unwanted pregnancy.
- Talk about birth control. Not everyone likes being on the pill. If it doesn’t suit your health, or you believe you’re not organised enough to remember to pop one daily, explore alternative birth control options.
- Insist on a condom. If your partner is averse to using a condom, you probably need to rethink the relationship. Unprotected fun can be a lot of fun – for the few minutes it lasts. But be aware that it could leave you with a lifetime of responsibility, something you may not be ready for.
- Don’t let anyone force you. People have sex for all kinds of reasons. It could be because they have the hots for each other; or they think it is the first step to a long-term commitment; they don’t want to be left out when everyone else seems to be ‘doing it’; or, they fear they may lose their lover if they don’t oblige and give him/her what he/she wants. If you’re not comfortable having sex, stick to your guns and explain your reasons to your partner.
- Don’t let your guard down. Don’t lose control over what you’re drinking at a party if you feel things may get out of hand and you may be physically compromised. If you feel tipsy, say no to the next drink offered. Lowered inhibitions lead you to do things you may never do otherwise. A little compromise can be a big mistake – one you may regret an entire lifetime.
- Make personal decisions yourself. You are responsible for yourself -- and that includes your values and decisions. There is no perfect point in a relationship when sex has to happen. Nor is a relationship ‘incomplete’ in any way, if there is a lack of sexual contact. Don’t let anyone pressurize you into imagining the ‘ideal’ situation. You must do what is right according to the voice of your heart. And if that means having no sex your partner needs to respect that decision.
- Carry a condom in your purse. Don’t leave it to the man. You need to be just as prepared, if you care about your sexual health.
- Intimacy comes in many forms. Lack of sex is not absence of intimacy. All that you’re abstaining from is vaginal or anal intercourse. Pleasurable intimacy is possible in many other ways.
- Regular gynaecological check-ups are a must. This is important for good sexual health, so don’t wait until a problem strikes. An annual check-up is a good habit to cultivate, and ensures that problems, if any, are detected early.
 Use condom for safe sex
Though condoms are the most popular form of practicing safe sex, it is not a 100% guarantee of safety against AIDS for the same reason the condom is not a 100% guarantee of safety against pregnancy. There's always the possibility of human or mechanical error. Condoms can slip and break. They also can leak. Even the experts aren't certain condoms can guarantee against sexual transmission of the HIV virus.
- Enjoying safer sex
- Smart sex