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Enjoying Sex Safely


Safe sex is sexy. Sex is meant to feel good and be fun, but it can be risky if not treated with respect.

When entering into sexual relations with someone, the first thing you should do is talk about it and make sure you seek consent. Always ask someone before you start touching them or engaging in intercourse. This article talks about: safe sex, consent, decision making,  STIs, unplanned pregnancy, emergency contraception, and where to go if you need advice or help.

WHAT IS SEX

Sex can mean different things to different people.

A better way to describe sex would be to say sexual activity, as sex can include a range of things. Sex can include: 

  • Penetration of the vulva/vagina or anus by another person using any part of the body or any object
  • Putting a penis into a mouth
  • Putting a mouth onto a vulva
  • Any other sexual activity that may involve another person / people like kissing and mutual masturbation

This info sheet is about how to do all of these sexual activities safely. 

DEFINING SAFE SEX

Safe Sex is not just about taking care of your physical self, but also your emotional self.  Safe sex means:

  • Only having sex with the full consent of everyone involved
  • Feeling good about your decision 
  • Preventing the transmission of sexually transmissible. infections (STIs) 
  • Preventing unplanned pregnancy 

SEX ALWAYS REQUIRES CONSENT

 No matter how you define sex, everyone involved needs to give consent if it involves another person or people. 

  • Consent is when someone communicates yes to something. This is best achieved by either saying yes or signing yes. 
  • It’s important to check in regularly to see if the person/people you are having sex with are still giving consent to what is happening. Some ways to check-in is to ask questions like:
    • “Is this okay?” 
    • “Do you still want to do this?”
    • “Do you need a break?”
    • “Do you want to stop?” 
    • “What would you like to do next?”

If a person does not respond – they are not giving consent and all sexual activity must stop. 

  • If a person communicates no or that they want to stop – they are not giving consent and all sexual activity must stop. 
  • If a person is drunk or under the influence of drugs they are not able to give consent, and all sexual activity must stop.
  • If there is any doubt, confusion, or mixed messages about consent you need to stop and talk about it.

CONSENT

  • Must be given in every sexual encounter – every time. Even if it has been given before.      
  • Is required in every relationship – no matter how long you have been together or how long you plan to stay together. 
  • May be taken back at any time – it’s always ok for people to change their mind.
  • Is an essential part of respecting the person/ people you are with and their sexual rights (and yours as well). 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CONSENT

FEELING GOOD ABOUT YOUR DECISION

SEX SHOULD BE A POSITIVE, PLEASURABLE EXPERIENCE. 

Sometimes we can feel all sorts of pressures to have sex, and while we may say yes and mean it, it’s also important to feel good about that decision.

Things that help us to make good decisions include:

  • Getting all the info you need — think about where you can go to get good, accurate info on safe sex, or who you can talk to about it. 
  • Talking with the person/people you are about to have sex with. What are they expecting? What are you expecting? What do you feel okay about doing? What do they feel okay about doing? What do you like? What do they like? Etc. 
  • Thinking about how alcohol or drugs might affect things. Being drunk and/ or under the influence of other drugs can affect our ability to make good decisions and can make it harder to convey if you are giving consent or not. If you are very drunk or are high you are not able to give consent.
  • Being honest — with yourself and the person/people you are with. Everyone has boundaries, and only you know what yours are. 

FOR MORE DETAILS ON MAKING GOOD DECISIONS SEE THE FOLLOWING:

  • The Line: Do you know where you draw the line? theline.org.au
  • Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT: Info about your sexual and reproductive health shfpact.org.au

PREVENTING SEXUALLY TRANSMISSIBLE INFECTIONS (STIS)

WHAT ARE STIS AND HOW DO YOU GET THEM?

STIs are bacteria or viruses that are sexually transmitted. They are transmitted from one person to another through skin-to-skin contact and the exchange of body fluids (semen, vaginal fluid, and blood). 

HOW DO YOU PREVENT GETTING STIS?

The best way to reduce your chance of getting an STI is to use condoms and/ or dams (a dam is a fine latex sheet that can be placed over the vulva or anal area during oral sex).

MANY STIS HAVE NO SYMPTOMS – GET CHECKED REGULARLY!

Regular sexual health checks to test for STIs are important and can also help decrease transmission and help maintain your health for the long term. STIs do not go away by themselves and can have significant health consequences, including infertility and serious illness if they are not treated. Most common STIs are easy to treat. 

PREVENTING UNPLANNED PREGNANCY

Pregnancy happens when a sperm and egg meet, and fertilisation occurs. 

Pregnancy can occur even with one act of sex, if it’s your first time, during your period, and even if the penis is withdrawn from the vagina before ejaculation.

Contraception is used to prevent pregnancy. The methods of contraception available include:

  • Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs.) LARCS are contraceptive methods that are very effective, work for a long time, and are quickly reversible when you stop using them. LARCS include the contraceptive implant (the rod) and intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  • Hormonal methods such as the pill and the contraceptive injection
  • Barrier methods-including condoms. (Condoms are the only contraceptive method that also protects you from STIs)

To discuss contraception and which method might suit you, see a nurse or doctor at SHFPACT, or see your GP.

EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION (EC)

Emergency contraception is used to reduce the risk of pregnancy after unprotected sex. Unprotected sex is where semen has entered the vagina. This may be when no contraceptive method was used, or contraception failed (such as a condom breaking or slipping off). Emergency contraception can be tablets or a Copper IUD.

There are two different types of EC tablets available:

LEVONORGESTREL EC.

Levonorgestrel EC needs to be taken within 3 days of the sexual activity. The sooner you take it, the better because its effectiveness decreases over time. 

WHERE CAN I GET IT?

In the ACT, you can get Levonorgestrel EC free from the Walk-in Centres (in Tuggeranong, Gungahlin, Weston, Dickson, and Belconnen); Canberra Sexual Health Centre (at The Canberra Hospital): and from the Junction Youth Health Service in Civic. You can also get Levonorgestrel EC over the counter at most pharmacies for about $20 to $30, and from SHFPACT for a low cost.

ELLAONE

EllaOne  is the other EC available in a tablet. It is more effective than Levonorgestrel EC and is effective up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

WHERE CAN I GET IT?

EllaOne is available from pharmacies for a cost of around $45. Call the pharmacy beforehand to make sure they have it.

Copper IUD

The Copper IUD can also be used as very effective emergency contraception up to 5 days after unprotected sex. For more information make a booking on 02 62473077.


DO YOU NEED TESTING OR SOMEBODY TO TALK TO ABOUT SEXUAL HEALTH, LIFESTYLES OR RELATIONSHIPS?

The services below are only a text, click or call away!

SEXUAL HEALTH & FAMILY PLANNING ACT
Contraception, STI testing & information, unplanned pregnancy counselling, EC, sexual health concerns. 
1st Floor, 28 University Ave, Canberra City ACT
Booked Appointments or call 02 6247 3077

CANBERRA SEXUAL HEALTH CENTRE
STI testing, treatment & information.
Canberra Hospital Yamba Dr, Garran ACT
Booked Appointments Call 5124 2184

MERIDIAN INCORPORATED
Support for gender and sexually diverse people, and people living with HIV.
Havelock House, 85 Northbourne Avenue, Turner ACT
For more information call 02 6257 2855 

A GENDER AGENDA
A Gender Agenda works with intersex, transgender and gender diverse people, their friends, families, and allies.
For more information call  02 6162 1924 

THE JUNCTION YOUTH HEALTH SERVICE
Free primary health care service for people aged 12 to 25 years old. Services include EC and STI testing. 
30 Scotts Crossing, Canberra City ACT
For more information call 02 6232 2423

ACT WALK-IN CENTRES
Services include chlamydia screening and EC
Open 7:30am to 10:00pm daily-drop in- no appointment needed.

  • Tuggeranong: Anketell St & Pitman St, Greenway 
  • Belconnen: 56 Lathlain St, Belconnen 
  • Gungahlin: Ernest Cavanagh Street, Gungahlin 
  • Weston: 24 Parkinson St, Weston
  • Dickson: 111 Dickson Place, Dickson. 

HEADSPACE
A national youth mental health foundation dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young Australians. 
For more information call 02 6201 5343 

CANBERRA RAPE CRISIS CENTRE
For help and support if you’ve been sexually assaulted.
For more information call  6247 2525

LIFELINE
24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
For more information call free 13 11 14


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