Sunday 4 September 2022

What is safe sex?

What is my favourite type of sex? That's an easy one to answer. Safe sex!

But what is safe safe? When you hear that phrase, your mind probably immediately jumps to thinking about contraception. And rightly so as, for many of us, we will have had the notion drilled into us that practicing safe sex" means using a condom to both avoid unwanted pregnancies and to protect against a whole host of different sexually transmitted infections. Or perhaps abstaining from intercourse by engaging in outercourse instead.

However, there is more to it that just wearing a condom or using some other form of birth control. World Sexual Health Day asks us to consider the other aspects of having a healthy sex life, because a healthy sex life is a good sex life.

Despite the best intentions of everyone preaching the importance of using protection when having sex, this often overshadows other important considerations of what sexual health really is. For instance, the emotional and psychological side of sex. 

Things like understanding the importance of consent in all its different forms. Or being comfortable in recognising and embracing your sexual orientation and gender identity without feeling ashamed or stigmatised for your sexual preferences. 

Indeed, the theme for World Sexual Health Day 2022 is "Let's talk pleasure" and centres on the need for sex to actually be a pleasurable experience for all involved, which is the perfect message for Pleasure Your Mate Month

“Self-determination, consent, safety, privacy, confidence and the ability to communicate and negotiate sexual relations are key enabling factors for pleasure to contribute to sexual health and well-being.

Sexual pleasure should be exercised within the context of sexual rights, particularly the rights to equality and non-discrimination, autonomy and bodily integrity, the right to the highest attainable standard of health and freedom of expression.

The experiences of human sexual pleasure are diverse and sexual rights ensure that pleasure is a positive experience for all concerned and not obtained by violating other people’s human rights and well-being.”

World Association for Sexual Health

Sadly, pleasure for all involved is too often not the case, with the reasons for this being many and stretching across a whole spectrum of causes. 

It can be due to unhealthy or abusive relationships that do not permit both partners to be equally satisfied or even lead to physical harm being done. Or it could be down to archaic laws that forbid individuals of certain sexualities from being able to openly express themselves in the way they want without fear of being shamed or even persecuted by the state. 

These are just a couple of the myriad of obstacles that could be preventing people around the world for enjoying safe and healthy sex, even though sexual health and pleasure is a fundamental human right that all should benefit from. Today should be a reminder of that.

For more information on World Sexual Health Day 2022, please visit

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