What is safe sex?

As well as consent, safe sex is about making sure you’re protected from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and that you are taking care of your own and your partner’s health when having sex.

It’s also important to think about contraception, and protecting yourself from unwanted pregnancy.

There are different options when it comes to contraception. Here are some of the most common tools you can use:

Male Condoms

Male condoms are commonly made from latex, and can be purchased from supermarkets and chemists and are also provided at many sexual health and family planning clinics free of charge. The condom acts as a barrier between any vaginal/anal/oral and penal discharge.

How to use a male condom:

  1. Check the expiry date of the condom.
  2. Check there are no breakages in the packet.
  3. Put a dab of lubricant on tip of penis or phallic object.
  4. Move condom to side of pack and open.
  5. Remove condom and roll on correctly.
  6. Put lubricant all over condom.
  7. After sex, remove condom.
  8. Throw away.

Female condoms

The female condom acts in much the same way as the male condom, except it is inserted into the vagina or anus.

How to use a female condom:

  1. Put lubricant on the outside of the closed end
  2. Find a comfortable position – stand with one foot resting on a chair, sit on the edge of a chair, lie down or squat.
  3. Squeeze together the sides of the inner ring at the closed end of the condom and insert into the vagina like a tampon.
  4. Push the inner ring into the vagina as far as it can go (until it reaches the cervix)
  5. Pull out your finger and let the outer ring hang about an inch outside the vagina.

If you want to use the female condom for anal intercourse, follow the same instructions for inserting into the anus.

To remove the female condom:

  1. Squeeze and twist the outer ring to keep semen inside the pouch.
  2. Gently pull it out of the vagina or anus
  3. Throw away.


Unprotected oral sex can result in transmission of sexually transmitted infections including genital herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea and hepatitis. A dam is a thin square piece of latex which is placed over the anal or vaginal areas during oral sex. Using a dam is especially important if you’ve got a cut or sore in your mouth or lips or if you have bleeding gums. Dams can be purchased from chemists and sexual health and family planning clinics. If dams are unavailable an unlubricated condom can be cut down the middle and flattened.

How to use a dam:

  1. Take the dam out of the sealed bag.
  2. Hold the dam up to the light to make sure there are no holes in it.
  3. Place the dam over the genital area.
  4. Keep it at its natural size – don’t stretch it.

Rules for condom and dam use

  • Never reuse or share condoms or dams.
  • Use a water based lubricant with condoms and dams – Don’t use oil based lubricants like skin creams or Vaseline.
  • Store condoms and dams in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Use one side of the dam only.
  • Use a new dam if switching between oral and vaginal or oral and anal sex.
  • Be careful not to rip either condoms or dams with your teeth or jewellery.

Putting your fingers or fist in your partner’s vagina or anus is safe sex as long as you don’t have cuts or sores on your hands and your partner does not have her period. The safest way to do this is to wear a latex surgical glove (not a dishwashing glove) and use lots of water-based lubricant.