Sex –Safe Sex Rules

The silly sea­son in­cludes lots of fun and games — in­clud­ing the sex­ual kind. Here’s how to make sure you don’t live to re­gret your choices

True Love - - CONTENTS - By ZAMA NKOSI-MABUYE

Safe sex ed­u­ca­tion is often as­sumed to be re­served for teens and young adults. Young women al­ready know ev­ery­thing they need to know about their bod­ies, sex­ual health and re­pro­duc­tion, right? The re­al­ity, how­ever, is very dif­fer­ent. “You’d be sur­prised at how lit­tle knowl­edge women have about their sex­ual health,” says Pamela Makhetha, a health prac­ti­tioner who works at a sex­ual health clinic in Jo­han­nes­burg. “I deal with women, daily, who don’t fully un­der­stand that they have the right to make de­ci­sions that af­fect their sex­ual health. It is prob­a­bly one of the last so­cial taboos; no­body is talk­ing about it but ev­ery­body who is sex­u­ally ac­tive is af­fected by it,” she says.

Let’s all agree on one thing: the per­son who is re­spon­si­ble for your sex­ual health, is you. Cou­ples coun­sel­lor Siza­kele Zondi says, “Women often give up power when it comes to their sex­u­al­ity and health. I want ev­ery woman to un­der­stand that you can­not trust any­one with your sex­ual health, even if he’s your hus­band and a man of God. So you must al­ways think of your­self and your well-be­ing first, and make de­ci­sions based on that.”

THE RULES

To help you make the best de­ci­sions for your sex­ual health, we com­piled ba­sic safe sex rules to ob­serve:

IN­SIST ON MANDA­TORY TEST­ING

Manda­tory means that it’s not ne­go­tiable, even when you’ve been dat­ing for a while, and he doesn’t want to use con­doms any­more. It’s not enough for your part­ner, how­ever lovely he or she is, to as­sure you their sex­ual health is in or­der. Get tested to­gether, so your re­la­tion­ship is trans­par­ent and you both get in­for­ma­tion from a pro­fes­sional. Make sure the tests in­clude screen­ing for STIs.

“The op­er­a­tive word is ‘be­fore’ you en­gage in un­pro­tected sex. The mo­ment you suc­cumb to pas­sion or pres­sure and have un­pro­tected sex with some­one you haven’t tested with, you’ve def­i­nitely put your health at risk,” Makhetha says.

TAKE A STAND ON PREG­NANCY

Fall­ing preg­nant “by mis­take” is one of so­ci­ety’s most com­mon life mis­takes. Young peo­ple, in par­tic­u­lar, often be­lieve “it won’t hap­pen to me.” The good news is that it doesn’t have to. “Fall­ing preg­nant and keep­ing the baby is one of the big­gest de­ci­sions you’ll make in your life. So, make sure it’s a de­ci­sion and not a fate that’s thrust on you by poor de­ci­sion-mak­ing,” Makhetha warns.

“If you don’t want to be preg­nant, make sure you’ve made a plan for that. Whether that means us­ing con­doms ev­ery sin­gle time or be­ing on con­tra­cep­tion and hav­ing sex with a part­ner you’ve tested with, you have to make a de­ci­sion. I often deal with women that have un­planned preg­nan­cies and sur­prise STIs at the same time. It is stress­ful and com­pletely un­nec­es­sary, and you have the power to avoid that,” she adds.

Keep in mind that the pull-out method is not a smart plan for stay­ing on the right side of your goals; it’s a roll of the dice and if it re­ally worked, at least a third of the pop­u­la­tion wouldn’t ex­ist.

OWN YOUR RE­PRO­DUC­TIVE HEALTH

If you are hav­ing sex, a visit to a gy­nae­col­o­gist needs to be a pri­or­ity. “Sex­ual health isn’t just about the ac­tual act of sex, it’s also about mak­ing sure you are in good health,” Makhetha says. An­nual gy­nae vis­its can help de­tect can­cer, in­flam­ma­tion and in­fec­tion of your re­pro­duc­tive or­gans — some con­di­tions and complications are not easy to de­tect. “Your doc­tor will do a pap smear but also help you with any other complications or con­di­tions you might have,” Makhetha adds. If any­thing feels ‘off’ down there, get an ex­pert to check it out – the sooner, the bet­ter.

DON’T ADD ANY EX­TRAS

It’s not un­com­mon for women to swap sex­ual tips on pleas­ing their part­ners. That’s not a bad thing, in it­self, but some­times some of the ad­vice is just plain dodgy. “Do not put things into your vagina in an ef­fort to bet­ter please your part­ner,” Makhetha ad­vises.

“Women put things like snuff, tree bark, herbs and other weird ob­jects into their vagi­nas, all in an ef­fort to be ‘mnandi’. Your vagina al­ready has ev­ery­thing it needs to make sex plea­sur­able. No amount of eat­ing cin­na­mon and yo­ghurt is go­ing to change how you feel to your part­ner. So stop try­ing so hard. If he com­plains, there is a big chance that he’s the prob­lem, and you need to move on to a part­ner who’ll ap­pre­ci­ate you,” she says.

BE MEN­TALLY AND EMO­TION­ALLY READY

As much as sex is seen as a phys­i­cal act, there are many other as­pects at play in our sex­ual re­la­tion­ships. “When you have sex

that you are not ready for, you make a de­ci­sion against your­self, be­cause you’re try­ing to please some­one else. I strongly ad­vise against it.

“Your feel­ings around your sex­ual re­la­tion­ships are im­por­tant and, again, the onus is on you to make sure you are taken care of. That can lead to un­com­fort­able con­ver­sa­tions, but that’s bet­ter than com­pro­mis­ing your­self. Sex is meant to be plea­sur­able. And that state in­cludes your mind, body and soul, so al­ways en­sure that you don’t take that part of your health for granted,” Zondi says.

SCREEN YOUR LOVERS

No one has the right to tell you how to pick your lovers. The re­spon­si­bil­ity is yours alone, and it is one you have to take se­ri­ously. “The per­son you choose to have sex­ual in­ter­ac­tions with has to be picked with a lot of con­sid­er­a­tion. Th­ese are peo­ple you are vul­ner­a­ble with and should your con­tra­cep­tion fail, that’s some­one who might be in your life for good,” Zondi says.

She con­cludes: “Lovers can also wreak havoc with your self-es­teem, so make sure you choose part­ners that af­firm who you are, and not those who cause harm. I often tell my clients that be­ing fussy is good when it comes to this. If you are choos­ing de­cent part­ners, sex will be healthy for your men­tal health, but when you choose the wrong ones, the dam­age to your men­tal and emo­tional state can be very harm­ful.”

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