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I love sex so much but….


Dear Eve,

I love sex so much which is worrying as I can't be faithful to my woman, I can't just have enough of it. I'm concerned as I don't want to get sick.


Dear reader, thank you for asking. I commend you for recognising the importance of sexual safety in addition to sexual pleasure.

Whenever discussions about responsible sex come up, the term "safe sex" is used. In reality, there is really no such thing. A more appropriate term would be "safer sex" because no matter what precautions you take, the minute there is a chance of coming into contact with bodily fluids, then a chance exists that you could pass an infection to someone or get an infection from someone.

In other words, the safest sex is abstinence. The goal of "safer sex" practices is to reduce the chances of infection for you and/or your partner(s). Before we talk about protecting yourself against STIs, it is good to talk about methods that can reduce chances of infection or prevent them altogether.

The most effective is abstinence, a very valid decision. In addition, activities such as heavy petting or masturbation (solo or mutual masturbation) can happen with minimal bodily fluid exchange.

Moving on to to prevention, a good place to begin is to understand some of what is out there, how you can get it and how you can protect yourself from it. Let's begin with a simple look at the different kinds of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections): the most common ones include HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus, which is often categorised as HSV 1 and HSV 2), HPV (Human Papillomavirus, which can cause genital warts and is most commonly linked to cervical cancer) & Hepatitis B.

In addition, there are those that are passed through skin-to-skin contact e.g. scabies or pubic lice. It is important to note that the way in which STI infections happen varies, so for example, engaging in anal sex or oral sex without any protection puts you at risk for any of the STI's listed above.

Unprotected oral sex on the other hand puts you at risk for infections of Syphilis, Gonorrhea, HSV, HPV and Hepatitis B on your lips, mouth or throat. Skin-to-skin contact can put you at risk for HPV, HSV, scabies or pubic lice.

Now that we have taken a brief look at different types of STI's, the next step would be to understand what options are available for those who want to have safer sex and protect themselves as best as they can.

The most common method is a barrier method such as latex condoms or dental dams. You may be wondering "what is a dental dam?" A dental dam is a thin piece of latex that one can use when they need to use their mouth during cunnilingus (mouth to woman's genitals) or anilingus (mouth to anal opening of either gender).

Placing a dental dam over the area on which you may want to use your mouth or tongue could protect you from whatever your partner may have. Another important part of having safer sex is getting regularly tested for HIV and other STI's, especially if you have engaged in sexually risky behaviour.

Please note the following: condoms are not 100 per cent effective, latex is the most effective material (unless you're allergic to latex, in which case you can try condoms made from other materials but they may not be as effective as latex condoms), and STI prevention should not be confused with pregnancy prevention.

In other words, while condoms with spermicide may drastically reduce the chances of a woman getting pregnant, spermicide does not offer greater protection against STIs. Finally, a fresh/new condom must be used every time. If you remove it to use the restroom, or it comes off, or you're alternating between partners or sexual acts, a new condom/dental dam must be used, every single time.

Please don't try to save condoms by rinsing and reusing or by wearing the same condom twice. The whole purpose of using them in the first place is to do your best in preventing an STI; reusing a condom increases your chances of coming into contact with bodily fluids that could cause infection so prioritise your life and health over saving a few shillings.

In addition to preventing STIs, it is important to get regularly tested for HIV and other STI's. When you do go for testing, don't assume; ask for the specific tests that you want. If you go to a health fair or other event where testing is being offered, ask for the specific STIs that they are testing for; please don't assume.

As I often say, "knowledge is power, and power is choice." It is with this in mind that I hope this information has increased your knowledge and helped you feel empowered enough to enjoy sex in a way that is safer for you and your partners.

Maggie Gitu is a marriage, family and sex therapist. Reach her on: [email protected] via her Facebook page: Maggie Gitu

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