This blog has been contributed by Allana Bennison. If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please email email@example.com.
Sex can be fun and exciting, but it can also become awkward or uncomfortable if you and your partner are not on the same page. Everyone has different experiences with sex and there are many factors to consider before engaging in sex. Here are some topics that should be discussed to ensure both parties are safe and comfortable.
Contraception & Protection
Absolutely should be discussed prior to engaging in any sexual acts. It’s important to be clear about what kind of protection you want to use and what you aim to gain from it. For people who can get pregnant, there are a huge range of contraceptives that protect against pregnancy, but there is still a risk of STIs. Using condoms is the only way to protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections. It is also a good idea to get tested in between sexual partners to avoid the risk of spreading anything to future partners. Also note that no contraceptives or forms of protection are 100% effective – when used correctly condoms and most hormonal contraceptives are around 95%+ but it can be easy to use them wrong.
Boundaries & Safe Words
Communicating about boundaries is so important. These boundaries could be about anything – certain sexual acts that you don’t want to engage in, places you don’t want to be touched, things you don’t want done / said to you. Sometimes there are ‘soft boundaries’, things you don’t usually like and don’t want to do unless you change your mind later on. Then there are ‘hard boundaries’, things you absolutely never want to do, they are completely off the table. Both types of boundaries should be communicated and respected.
Safe words are also important & often people think that safe words are only associated with ‘rough’ sex or certain kinks. However, this isn’t true. No matter what kind of sex you are engaging in, safe words are always a good idea. A partner could mishear ‘stop’ as ‘don’t stop’ and unintentionally cross a boundary. To be safe and clear, just use a simple word that could never be misunderstood in a sexual context.
Kinks / Interests
It’s a good idea to discuss what you’re into before having sex. You may have very specific kinks, or you may just favour certain things over others. It’s important to talk about your interests so that you and your partner both know what to expect. But also, don’t be afraid to experiment and discover new interests with a partner, if you feel comfortable.
It can be useful to discuss past experiences with your sexual partners. It can be as simple as saying “someone once tried this, and I did / didn’t like it”. This is a good way to establish what you do or don’t want your partner to do during sex. Looking back on your past experiences can also help you understand what works for you. Also, a partner may choose to discuss past experiences that may have been traumatic. They may confide in you so that you are aware. However, this is completely up to them – do not push a partner to discuss their past.
So, these are some topics to discuss with any new or current sexual partners. They’re not meant to take the fun away, or make sex something strict or unenjoyable – they are just meant to ensure everyone is happy!