Safer Sex

Safe sex is no sex – abstinence – but that doesn’t work for everyone. If you decide to have sex, there are ways to make it safer. Safer sex means protecting yourself and your partners from sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and pregnancy, and talking to your partner about these things ahead of time.

An STI or STD is a sexually transmitted infection that people get from other people through sexual contact; that can be from genital to genital, genital to mouth, rectum to mouth or genital, and even through kissing, sharing sex toys, or skin to skin contact. STIs are caused by a bacteria, virus, or parasite that can live in the human body. You cannot get STIs from toilet seats or animals. Some STIs can be spread by sharing ‘dirty’ or used needles for drug use, tattoos, or piercings. A mother can pass an infection to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.

There are a variety of ways to make sex safer.


The surest way to protect yourself against STIs is to not have sex. That means not having any vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It’s okay to say “no” if you don’t want to have sex.


Make sure that you and your partner use a condom from start to finish every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex. It is not safe to stop using condoms unless you’ve both been tested for STIs, know your results, and are in a mutually monogamous relationship. Remember, a condom only protects the part of the body that it covers.

The RHC has free condoms in the lobby. You can also order free condoms from www.iknowmine.org.

Get Tested

If you do decide to have sex, you and your partner should get tested for STIs beforehand.

The Anchorage Public Health Clinic offers STI testing and treatment. Click here for more information.

Mutual Monogamy

When you and your partner both agree to only have sexual contact with each other, this can help protect against STIs, as long as you’ve both been tested and know you’re STI-free. Since most people who have STIs do not have symptoms, getting tested is the only way to know for sure whether or not someone has an STI.


Before you have sex, talk with your partner about how you will prevent STIs and pregnancy. You should also talk to your partner ahead of time about what you will and will not do sexually. Your partner should always respect your right to say no to anything that doesn’t feel right. Click here for tips about starting these conversations with your partner.

Avoid mixing alcohol or recreational drugs with sex.

If you use alcohol and drugs, you are more likely to take risks, like not using a condom or having sex with someone you normally wouldn’t have sex with.

Special Needs of Girls and Women

Girls and women should talk to their doctor or nurse about regular cervical cancer screening, and routine chlamydia and gonorrhea testing.