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What They Don't Show You on Dawson's Creek: The Do's and Don'ts of Practicing Safe Sex

What They Don't Show You on Dawson's Creek: The Do's and Don'ts of Practicing Safe Sex

What is safe sex?
How does safe sex work?
How reliable is safe sex?
Is oral sex safe sex?

What is safe sex?
Safe sex means taking precautions while having sex to prevent catching or passing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These diseases include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, genital warts, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. back to top

How does safe sex work?
The bacteria and viruses that cause STDs are carried in bodily fluids. These fluids are semen, vaginal secretions, pus and liquids from open sores, and blood. The goal of safe sex is to prevent one person's bodily fluids from coming into contact with the other person's sensitive areas. These sensitive areas include the vagina, the mouth, and the inside of the anus.

During intercourse or oral sex, the best way to avoid contact with bodily fluids is for the boy to wear a condom. That way semen can't get into your vagina or mouth, and vaginal fluids can't infect the penis.

Safe sex also means that if you have an STD, you should have no intimate sexual contact with anyone. This is true even while you are being treated. If you recently had an STD, you should tell all the people you had sexual contact with. They need to be treated right away, before they get sick and before they re-infect you or others. back to top

How reliable is safe sex?
Practicing safe sex makes it much less likely that you'll catch or pass an STD. But even safe sex isn't a total guarantee that you won't catch an STD. Some STDs, like herpes, are passed by contact with the open sores. A person may have these sores on areas that aren't covered by a condom.

Another reason that safe sex isn't completely reliable is that accidents can happen. Condoms can break or slip off during sex, which would allow semen to get into your vagina. That increases your chances of catching an STD and of getting pregnant.

It's probably more accurate to say that you can have "safer" sex, but never totally safe sex. back to top

Is oral sex safe sex?
Oral sex has a lower risk of passing STDs than sexual intercourse. But the risk is never zero. You can get a gonorrhea throat infection, genital herpes, and oral herpes from oral sex. It's also possible to pass HIV through oral sex. back to top

Last Modified Date: 4/4/2001
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