How to minimize your risk – Taking care of your… sexual health #2

There’s a reason this article isn’t called: “How to never get an STI” because the solution is never enjoying the carnal arts. And while this might work for some people, for the rest of us mere mortals, with wants and needs and desires, the best you can hope to do is minimise your risk. We’re only human after all, and life would be a joyless slog without the occasional heady joy of some risky activity. But when it comes to matters below the belt, you’re better off keeping your risk to a minimum. That’s why in this, the second article in our series Taking care of your… sexual health, we’ll be covering how to reduce your risk of catching an STI. 

The first article, like Morpheus from The Matrix, opened your eyes to a brave new world (of unforeseen risk). And now you, Neo, must learn how to operate in this world. Just keep dodging those bullets. 

Disclaimer: We’re a men’s grooming brand, not doctors. The information in this article is meant for informational purposes only, and should not be used to diagnose. If you think you have an STI, or are at risk for an STI contact your doctor. Testing and treatment will vary by country and a local medical profession will be able to advise you what’s most appropriate for you. If in doubt, don’t tough it out, taking care of yourself is sexy, so go speak to a medical professional. 

Protect yourself before your wreck yourself

As with most things we write about here on the BoldkingBlog, the answer is simple: use protection. Whatever kind of sex you engage in, whether it’s vaginal, anal or oral you can protect yourself, and your partner, by using a condom. Condoms only work for oral if it is fellatio, so for cunnilingus you would need to use something called a dental dam. Although, honestly, I’ve never heard of anyone using one in practice. 

Anecdotally most people also don’t seem to use condoms for blowjobs. And while performing and receiving oral sex without protection is safer than intercourse, it’s not without it’s risks. You can still get a variety of infections from oral sex. And several STIs can lead happy lives in the back of the throat. So do yourself a favour and avoid deepthroating unless you’re using protection. Or better yet, go without. 

Even with a condom you aren’t 100% protected. Condoms are 98,5% effective against disease like HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, but only between 66-75% effective for other illnesses, particularly herpes, gential warts, and syphilis, which can be passed on by skin-to-skin contact. All these numbers also only apply when condoms are used correctly, and don’t account for breakages. 

Higher risk groups

Several categories of people also fall into higher risk groups. Men who have sex with men, sex workers, people with multiple sexual partners and people from countries with higher STI rates, particularly countries in Sub-Saharan Afric, Southeast Asia and Latin America/Caribean. If you are a member of any of these groups, or you have sex with anyone from any of these groups your risk is significantly higher. In all these cases the same advice from the previous section holds through: use protection. You might also want to consider upping how regularly you get STI tests. Knowledge is power after all –more on this below. 

Keep your wits about you

And the final piece of advice on reducing risk is: no fucking while fucked. It’s a well known fact about intoxication that your decision making becomes… let’s say less than sound. 

“Should I make a noodle omelet?” Sure, why not.

“Should I confess my undying love to this complete stranger?” What’s the worst that can happen?

“Should I tell everyone at the office Christmas party what I really think of them?” 

Luckily Covid had your back this year and you were on-mute for the entire tirade. But you get the idea. Alcohol, or your particular intoxicant of choice, isn’t always your friend when it comes to decisions. 

So while sober you might think: “Hey we don’t have condoms, let’s get some.” or “Maybe a bit of heavy petting is good enough.” drunk you will often think: “Yolo, what’s the worst that can happen.” That is if you’re even thinking at all. 

So for better decision making, and honestly a better sexual experience, keeping your alcohol consumption moderate is the better choice.

When should you get an STI test?

The most obvious time to get tested is when you notice symptoms. Itchiness, rash, sores, or any kind of general discomfort down there can be an indicator that you might have an STI. Obviously take your circumstances into consideration i.e. Don’t freak out if you get a rash after you’ve been running in swimming shorts. But if you’ve engaged in any kind of recent sexual activity and then developed symptoms then it would be a good time to get a check up. (Symptoms can sometimes develop weeks or even months after you’ve been exposed to an infection. We’ll cover this more in the following article.)

It’s also a good idea to get an STI test at the start of an exclusive relationship. This way you and yor partner can have unprotected sex to your heart’s desire without having to worry. Because, as you’ll see in the next article, someone can have an STI without knowing about it. A test at the beginning of a relationship can save you from inadvertently giving your partner something, or vice versa. 

How often should you get an STI test?

If you’re sexually active and not in a monogamous relationship you should probably be getting an STI check up at least once a year. Many STIs are asymptomatic i.e. you might not even know you have one. But just because you don’t have symptoms doesn’t mean you’re not in danger. Untreated STIs can lead to problems down the road, including impotence and erectile dysfunction. And there’s also the risk that you could be spreading the disease without knowing it. We’ll dig into the dangers of the different STIs in the next article. 

Also if you are in any of the at risk groups mentioned above you should also be getting tested more often. Having sex with more than 5 people ever six months? Then maybe bi-annual test would be better. Work in the sex industry and banging multiple times a day, then honestly I don’t know how often you should be testing, but definitely more than once a year.

Lady Luck

While regular testing won’t reduce your risk of catching an STI, only condom use and Lady Luck will do that. At least you’ll know if you have something –before you pass it onto someone, or it becomes a bigger problem. As with all things in life it’s better to be prepared and travel hopefully, and hope that Lady Luck smiles fondly on your adventures between the sheets. Ride on Sir Galahad!

It’s always good to know your enemy right? In the next article we’ll be looking at all the myriad of STIs, what it means if you get one, and their individual particular proclivities. Want to bring yourself up to speed on the risk you might not know about? See the last article in the series Know the risks

Let us know what you think.