Sex and Pancakes

To Serve and Protect

I’m gay and it will be two years that I have been with my boyfriend.

I’m gay and it will be two years that I have been with my boyfriend. I have always been an advocate for protected sex and have never had sex without protection. But I tried it for the first time and loved the experience.
Everyone I know eventually stops using protection, but when is the right time (if there is one)? If you are certain both you and your partner are clean and have been tested? I have only had unprotected sex three times and still have this uneasy feeling about it .

Feeling Vulnerable

­­This is a question I think a lot of people have, because we’re constantly taught “safer sex, all the time,” but then what?

What happens once you’ve been with someone for several years, or even if you’ve committed your life to someone?

As someone offering advice on safer sex, I could never advise you to stop using condoms. It’s always just safer to use protection and there’s no such thing as a risk-free situation.

That being said, let’s acknowledge the reality here: a lot of people in committed relationships do stop using protection, and that’s not necessarily irresponsible—it’s their choice, and as long as they know the risks, there’s nothing wrong with that.

The problem is, there is no “right time”—it’s more a matter of assessing the risks and making a decision you feel comfortable with. So assess your own risk and your feelings about it.

Also, consider the stuff you’re doing in the sack and how risky it is. Anal
sex, for example, is a pretty risky sex

act, since the anus doesn’t naturally produce lubrication and microscopic tears and cuts for STIs to enter through aren’t uncommon.

Not using condoms isn’t for everyone. Some people will go crazy worrying every time they have sex if they don’t use one—so if that’s you, don’t put yourself through that.

If you decide not to use a condom, make sure you’re comfortable, confident and that the decision is your own so that you still enjoy the sex.

There are also ways to minimize your risk aside from condoms, though you can still do these when using condoms too.

Lube is a magical thing. Though it doesn’t get much safer sex credit, sometimes it can make all the difference. Lubing up will not only feel awesome, it’ll also lower your chances of getting an STI, since the lubrication will reduce the likelihood of getting small cuts, tears and irritation.

For anal sex, enemas (flushing the anus with water) can reduce the risk of contact with fecal matter, which can also cause a lot of fun infections, and not cumming inside your partner’s anus or mouth will lower the amount of contact and fluid exchange.

Either way, always use a condom with a non-monogamous partner and continue getting regularly tested, even if “you’re sure” you’re both STI-free.

Also, remember that there’s no such thing as being “sure” or “clean.” (As a side note, I hate the term “clean” because having an STI doesn’t make you “dirty.”) Some STIs have no immediate or visible symptoms, and can take a long time to show up on any tests, so people don’t always know they’re infecting someone else.

The bottom line is that shit happens, and it can happen to anyone, even the person you love or even to you, so it’s important to remember that no one is special when it comes to risk.

If you want to stop using condoms, assess your risk and continue to take other precautions, especially for any peace of mind they may provide.

—Melissa Fuller

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