STI and STD Part V: safer sex and BDSM

Author: KatKristall
Kinky Life | Recommendations

Safety regulations are encountered everywhere, especially in BDSM. It starts with getting to know each other and doesn’t end with dangerous practices. An aspect that should not be underestimated is, of course, safety during sexual acts themselves, in order to protect oneself and others from sexually transmitted diseases. While we learn in school what safer sex is, many practices and borderline cases in BDSM practices are not covered.

Why is it actually called safer sex or safe sex?

Most people have a very loose definition of “safer sex,” as long as something is bagged. While condoms are still often used during anal and vaginal intercourse, oral sex is often carried out without protection and latex is also used less often when using toys. Many people believe that it is enough not to swallow sperm or period blood during oral sex, but diseases can be transmitted even without swallowing these body fluids.

Safer sex typically refers to sexual intercourse with physical barriers, which have traditionally been considered the most effective methods of contraception: condoms, femidoms, dental dams, and latex gloves, for example. These provide the lowest likelihood of infection with an STI or STD.

Some also understand safer sex to mean avoiding contact with bodily fluids or at least with those that have been shown to have the highest concentration of pathogens. You see: There are different levels of “safer”.

Risk Awareness

However, we are not completely safe in the sense of “safe” either with barriers or if we instead or additionally avoid contact with body fluids. But at least “safer”, i.e. as safe as you can be. For this reason, some people prefer the term “risk aware” instead of “safer”, because no measure is completely safe.

SSC and safer sex

The SSC principle, which stands for “safe, sane and consensual”, offers good guidance for safer sex in BDSM. As part of this concept, in addition to preferences and limits, contraception and safety measures are discussed and all that are known are taken. It is best to develop shared rituals and rules for protection, purification and the correct handling of situations and eventualities.

Safer sex: but with what?

As mentioned earlier, physical contraceptives are the first choice. These methods reduce the likelihood of contracting an STI or STD during sexual activity and also the likelihood of pregnancy. Here’s an overview of the most common barriers.

Condoms

Sure, who doesn’t know it: condoms are the most common contraceptive method after the pill and are still considered the safest contraceptive method. Basically, it is a latex or plastic tube that is placed over a penis and thus prevents direct contact and fluid exchange between the penis and the respective body opening. They should not only be rolled over the human penis, but also over sex toys and other objects that are inserted and, above all, used during oral sex. 

Condoms from Lelo.
Source: Rosy Care

However, condoms are made from a wide variety of materials and in many different sizes and flavors, as well as with different surfaces. How safe they really are always depends on the correct application.

The femidom

The femidom is a condom for people with vulva. It is basically the counterpart to the condom, a thin plastic cover that adapts to the inner wall of the vagina like a second skin. It is the only contraceptive method with which the vagina as a whole and therefore owners can protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections without interfering with the organism. 

Condoms for people with vagina.
Source: Rosy Care

During the insertion, which can be done before sexual intercourse, takes some practice, it protects the vagina from anything that is inserted into it and thus from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Oral dams

There is a barrier for cunnilingus and rimming: the oral dam. This is a thin latex cloth that is placed over the vulva or anus and can then be used for oral sex. It protects against body fluids, but may only be used once, from one side and only on one part of the body.

Oral dams significantly reduce the risk of infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis B. Most oral dams are odorless, but they are also available with a taste or smell. An alternative to oral dams can be a cut open latex glove. However, these do not offer the same protection as they are not intended for this purpose. Transparent film is not a suitable alternative.

Latex gloves

Latex gloves, or those made of nitrile or vinyl, are another often underestimated barrier. Their surface protects against injuries to the mucous membranes caused by fingernails as well as the transfer of skin cells, dirt and other potential sources of infection. Conversely, they also protect the wearer’s hands from fluids in the mucous membranes and body openings. Since they do not absorb liquids, neither physical nor lubricant, they are pleasant even during prolonged penetration. 

Latex gloves
Source: Rosy Care

Gloves should fit snugly on the hands and extend to the wrist. If you don’t want to wear gloves, you can use finger condoms instead, for example to apply lubricant.

Finger condoms.
Source: Rosy Care

Safer sex also means making it a clean affair

In addition to the physical barriers, it is also extremely important to first clean and then disinfect hands, objects and surfaces. Although this can never ensure 100% safety, the risk of infection is still greatly reduced.

Cleaning alone is often not enough, as this does not include treating a surface in such a way that it no longer poses a risk of infection. However, cleaning or cleaning precedes the disinfection step.

Unless otherwise stated, surfaces or objects should also be thoroughly cleaned or rinsed with water after disinfection if they have had contact with mucous membranes (e.g. dildo, gag) or long-term or large-area skin contact (e.g. cuffs or couches).

There are many different disinfection options, from boiling to individual agents, with a variety of chemical classifications and applications.

In general, it is important not to misuse cleaning and disinfecting agents for their intended purpose and when purchasing them, pay attention to what the agent in question actually helps against. For STI pathogens, the spectrum of activity should include: bactericidal, yeasticidal and virucidal, limited virucidal plus or limited virucidal including polyomavirus/SV40. If these are given as an indication, the product is suitable as a safer sex disinfectant.

Also pay attention to the manufacturer’s safety and application instructions as well as the expiry date. The required exposure time must always be adhered to in order to achieve the appropriate effect. No wiping or blotting dry. It’s better to wait a moment rather than risk contamination.

And don’t forget: Only where disinfectant goes is disinfected. On rough surfaces, you really need to apply it generously and over a large area. By the way, you can find a really detailed guide to disinfection here.

Disinfection options

Boil

“Hot water kills everything!” A piece of wisdom that is still valid. Boiling/boiling in hot water is still a common and effective disinfection method. Common conditions are 100°C for five minutes or 93°C for ten minutes. It’s best to use a suitable thermometer to check the temperature.

This shape is particularly suitable for metal toys such as clamps, Wartenberg wheels, sticks, speculums and others. Some silicone toys can also be disinfected with hot water. For example, the smell often dissolves better after anal use.

Disinfect toys

Toys such as dildos, plugs, impact tools, gags or clamps should be disinfected with a product that is compatible with mucous membranes. Disinfectants (toy cleaner) of this type are skin-friendly, meaning they do not dry out or irritate the skin. They are also compatible with materials whose surfaces are often attacked by other disinfectants, such as silicone, latex, Silikomed and all plastics. Nevertheless, they are highly effective against viruses such as the coronavirus, herpes and hepatitis but also against bacteria such as chlamydia and fungi.

Toy cleaner.
Source: Rosy Care

Disinfect surfaces

As the name suggests, a surface disinfectant is suitable for removing germs, bacteria and viruses from surfaces. Beforehand, the affected surface is thoroughly cleaned with a damp cloth. Then the disinfectant is sprayed on, removed with the cloth and sprayed again. For spray disinfection, products are available that “spray” a foam instead of just a fine mist.

Surface disinfectant.
Source: Rosy Care

Wipe disinfection with soaked wipes prepared by the manufacturer is also an option.

Disinfectant wipes for quick cleaning.
Source: Rosy Care

If you want to be on the safe side, you can also use special sheets or mattress protectors that are disposed of after use.

Sheets to protect surfaces from body fluids and skin contact.
Source: Rosy Care

Disinfecting hands

Our hands have the most contact with dirty surfaces in everyday life. Therefore, they should be thoroughly cleaned not only after but also before intimate contact.

Disinfectant for the hands.
Source: Rosy Care

However, most hand disinfectant gels available in drugstores only protect against bacteria, not viruses. So check the instructions and the spectrum of effectiveness beforehand. Ethanol-containing disinfectants, which absorb and evaporate, are well suited. Five milliliters rubbed for about 30 seconds is usually enough, or 90 seconds for practices involving mucous membranes.

Disinfect the body

While disinfecting your hands has become relatively common since the Corona crisis, whole-body cleansing is often only associated with showering. But especially if you go out a lot, visit swingers clubs, travel to other people’s premises or have a lot of sexual contact at work, it is important to have other quick solutions ready for yourself and others.

If things have to happen quickly, special wipes and sprays are recommended to reduce the risk of infection. Another good alternative are special cleaning gloves that enable effective and practical self-cleaning.

Travel wash gloves.
Source: Rosy Care

The right place to go for safer sex products?

With this sensitive topic in particular, it is important to have a source of supply that you can turn to with confidence. The items shown were provided by Rosy Care for us to test this and other items and there is also a small welcome gift for you. With the code “ROSYFORYOU” you will receive a discount of 5 euros on your first order.


This was Part IV of the Deviance series on sexually transmitted infections. Also interesting:

STI and STD part: how they’re transmitted

STI and STD Part II: the 8 most common

STI and STD Part III: misconceptions and clichés

STI and STD Part IV: infection risks in BDSM

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