This week’s Ask Anything column is answered by Liam, a fantastic Sense animator who facilitates our workshops in schools! As I mentioned before, Sense now has a formspring account where you can ask us anything – any of your awkward, out-there or just plain practical questions about sex. You can ask your questions anonymously at any time in the box to the right –> and we’ll post the answers here on the blog!
Q: is anal and oral sex safe without condoms?
The short answer is no, but, it’s always more complicated than that. For instance, oral and anal sex with condoms isn’t completely safe either. For instance, herpes, HPV (genital warts), and parasitic STIs (crabs, lice, and trichomoniasis) can be passed on even if a condom is used properly because condoms can only protect the area that they cover and these STIs are located all over the genital area, not just on the shaft of a penis. Instead of safe vs. unsafe, it makes more sense to talk about ‘safer’ sex. Condoms are a very effective method to prevent the transmission of a lot of STIs, many of which can be passed on through anal and oral sex.
Using a condom for anal sex can be a bit tricky because anuses often have less lubrication than either mouths or vaginas. Be sure to use a water-based lube with a latex condom and to go as slowly as you need to. Be sure not to double-bag (wear 2 condoms at the same time) because they rub together and actually increase the risk of a condom mishap.
For oral sex, condoms or dental dams can prevent the transmission of gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HIV and Hepatitis A/B/C, and can help reduce the risk of HPV and herpes transmission. But remember that if open sores are present and they’re not covered by the condom or dental dam, infections can be transmitted from skin to skin contact.
The take-away lesson is that proper condom use and caution when there are open sores around will do a lot to keep you safer.
Hope this helps! Happy safer sex!