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10 Ways to Make Safe Sex Fun

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Intimacy, orgasms, genital herpes, chlamydia, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS … sex today is a complicated mix of pleasure and pain. What are we to do, if not abstain? Become wise in the ways of safe sex.
Let’s be clear on one thing first. We’re talking about safer sex, not safe sex, and that’s an important distinction. There’s no such thing as 100 percent safe sex, but there are ways to make sex safer — safer from infections, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy. Some STIs such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV) can be passed to a partner through skin contact, not just intercourse. If statistics like that make you feel unsexy, pay attention. Practicing safe sex doesn’t have to mean sex becomes less fun or won’t feel as good. It’s all the pleasure and (hopefully) none of the disease. First, let’s talk about one of the best ways to make sex safer: using condoms.

10: Use Condoms
Use a condom: the clarion call of safe sex. We’ve been inundated with slogans such as “No glove, no love.” Condoms reduce the risk of transmitting STIs, but no form of contraception can offer 100 percent protection. They reduce transmission of HIV by 90 percent and genital herpes by about 30 percent. Studies vary on how effective (or not so effective) condoms are at protecting you from syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, but those studies do show that condoms offer some level of protection But that’s when you use them consistently, from beginning to end, and not just for part of the act. Choose flavored, colored, ribbed, lubricated, you name it, and it’s probably out there for you, including various sizes and shapes, too. You can even cut open condoms and use them as dental dams for safe oral sex with women.
Allergic or sensitive to latex? Don’t give up on condoms. Versions made from polyurethane, not latex, are available. While they’re considered less effective in minimizing your risk of spreading or contracting STIs — their comparative effectiveness is still being studied — they are considerably better protection than no condom at all.

9: Use a Lubricant
Wetter is better, especially when it comes to sex. Vaginal lubrication is key to sexual pleasure for both men and women, and sometimes there just isn’t enough. If sex is too dry, it can cause irritation and pain. Enter lube. Lubricant comes in a few forms: water-based, silicone-based and oil-based. Water- and silicone-based lubes are the best with condoms. Never use an oil-based lubricant with a condom — the oil will interact with the latex and cause it to break down.
You can purchase lubricants in a variety of flavors, from spicy to sweet; there are options for the chocoholics out there, too. Some cause warming sensations, some make you tingle, and if you’re looking for an icy blast, pick up a cooling lube.

8: Get Tested
OK, so getting testing for HIV and STIs is neither fun nor sexy, but knowing you’re infection-free can go a long way to easing any anxiety you may have about sexual performance or disease transmission. Anxiety doesn’t make sex fun. Be sure to schedule regular (annual) checkups with your doctor to be sure your body is running in tip-top condition from head to toe, including your sexual and reproductive health. Women — whether hetero- or homosexual — should visit their gynecologists annually. Those visits should include pelvic exams and Pap smears to help detect bacterial and viral STDs so you can get treatment, if needed. While no routine HIV and STI testing for men — like the Pap for women

7: Build the Anticipation
Having sex is fun, but so are all the things that lead up to the act itself. We’re talking about all the things that aren’t penetrative sex. Use your seduction skills by leaving a sexy voicemail or text message for your partner, detailing what you have in store for him or her after work, or what you’d like to have done to you. Also, take the time to set the mood — both the mood of the room and your partner’s mood. Light candles or unwind with a massage. Take the time to enjoy your partner’s body by exploring and teasing — put an emphasis on foreplay. And with good reason

6: Get Out of the Bedroom
Sleep experts recommend we use our beds only for sleep and sex. But what if we just used our beds for sleep? Add a little bit of naughtiness to your sex life by trying out new locations for your sexual exploits.
Are you among the sexually adventurous who have sex outside the bedroom? Whether it’s in the shower, on the couch or in a secluded but still public spot — make sure it’s secluded or risk an indecent exposure charge — sex can be more fun when you feel like you’re misbehaving.

5: Try New Positions
There’s nothing wrong with a favorite, go-to position that makes your toes curl, but there’s also nothing wrong with breaking out of your habit and spicing things up with a new position. Maybe not all of the 64 sexual activities described in the Kama Sutra are your taste, but something as simple as switching who gets to be on top (or side or behind) can increase pleasure and sensation. The angle of penetration that a new position may offer might just add to your enjoyment, and trying something new with your partner may increase your intimacy with each other.
While that new position may not work out, it will still be fun to try something out of the ordinary. And if at first you don’t succeed …

4: Make a Toy Box
The television show “Sex and the City” is famous for many things, including making the Rabbit vibrator a hot commodity, but if you haven’t yet explored the world of sex toys, consider incorporating them into your sexual escapades to increase pleasure and intimacy with your partner. Fill your box with items — think vibrators, dildos, feathers, massage oils, flavored or warming/cooling lubricants and a rainbow of condoms — that will enhance the sexual experience for both you and your partner. Keep it in the bedroom, under the bed or in a nightstand for easy access.
Remember to use condoms and give your toys a good scrub after use to avoid bacterial infections and STIs. Some toys, such as glass, stainless steel and silicone ones, are dishwasher safe. Stick to antibacterial soap and water when cleaning hard plastics, though.

3: Share Your Fantasies
Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t? Or maybe your partner has some fantasies that you haven’t explored? Talk about what you have in mind and see what you’re both comfortable with.
Fifty-one percent of people surveyed in the ABC News “Primetime Live” poll admitted they talk to their partners about their sexual fantasies, and of those who share fantasies with their partners, 44 percent are happy about their exciting sex lives. Whether it’s role-playing or costumes, trust us: You’re unlikely to be distracted about whether or not a condom feels good when your partner is dressed up in something sexy.

2: Engage in Sex Play
According to recent surveys, 42 percent of people consider themselves adventurous in bed, and among the 55 percent of people surveyed who considered their sex lives to be traditional, three in 10 want to be more adventurous .So how do you up the excitement?
While it’s not for everyone, engaging in sex play can add a little extra adventure and excitement to safer sex. Whether it’s sex games like a few rounds of strip poker, an adult version of truth or dare, some light bondage with a blindfold and handcuffs (or a men’s tie), or a little whipped cream, sex play can break you out of vanilla sex and heighten both pleasure and sensation.

1: Focus on Pursuing Pleasure and Intimacy
Focusing on the trust and intimacy you’re building with your partner, rather than worrying about unplanned pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease, lowers your anxiety level and makes your sexual experiences more fun. Kissing and orgasms both increase the level of oxytocin, a chemical our brains release that causes us to feel good and helps build long-lasting attachments.
Keep a positive attitude about safe sex — if you go into the experience expecting it to be less than stellar because it’s safe, your attitude itself may ruin your fun.

(Source: Discovery Health/Maria Trimarchi)

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