Women's Health Matters

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Risks Associated with Sexual Activity

High-Risk Sex

Two kinds of sex that have a high risk of passing infected body fluids from one person to another:

  • vaginal intercourse; a man's penis entering your vagina
  • anal intercourse; a man's penis entering your anus

If you are going to have vaginal or anal sex, the best protection against disease is a male or female condom. To help you avoid infection; detailed instructions for using condoms are provided in the birth control section.

A male or female condom is good protection against:

  • trichomonas
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • gonorrhea
  • chlamydia
  • syphilis
  • HIV/AIDS

Condoms also offer some protection against:

  • genital warts
  • herpes
  • hepatitis-B virus

Lower Risk Sex

Oral sex is considered lower risk because there are fewer infections you can get in this way. Oral sex means putting your mouth on someone else genitals. Although the risk of getting some infections is lower you can still get these infections through unprotected oral sex:

  • herpes
  • hepatitis
  • gonorrhea
  • syphilis
  • very rarely HIV/AIDS

You can also use condoms to protect yourself against these infections during oral sex. If you are performing oral sex on a man, put the condom over the penis to prevent contact between body fluids. If you are performing oral sex on a woman, cut the condom down the side and use it as a flat sheet to prevent contact between body fluids. Non-microwavable plastic wrap can also be used in this way.

Low Risk Sex

Low risk sex includes touching and rubbing each other's genitals with your hands, kissing and massaging each other. These activities are considered low risk because many sexually transmitted infections including HIV cannot be transmitted in this way. However, oral herpes is easily transmitted during kissing. Genital warts and trichomonas can be passed from one person to another by moving your hands from one person's genitals to another. Crabs can move from one person to another during any close contact.

Using sex toys in combination with a condom is also considered low risk sex. The condom should be placed over the toy and changed for each new act of penetration.

 

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Infections and Safer Sex

Safer Sex

Risks Associated with Sexual Activity

Regular Check-ups

Infections

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital