Whatever choices you make about sex it is important that you feel that they are the right choices for you. Making choices about sex is not always an easy or straight forward process. People have sex for all sorts of different reasons including because they:
Sex should be a positive and enjoyable experience, yet sometimes sex can end up having a negative impact on your life and health. Be honest with yourself about what you want and the choices you make.
Sometimes sex and the choices we make aren't always rational decisions. Lots of people say 'sex just happened'. Often people talk about making choices in the 'heat of the moment'. While we all learn from our experiences, thinking ahead may enable you to be more in control.
When you think about sex and making decisions about sex there are many things to consider.
You need to do what feels right for you. To feel better about the choices you make you can:
If you are just starting to become sexually active, remember staying in control can be tough but keep in mind that:
Are you ready for sex? Your first sexual experience should be positive and safe, but how can you know if you’re ready for sex? Here’s a checklist from the World Health Organisation of life skills that you need to keep yourself safe. Can you honestly say yes to each one?
If you don’t feel sure about these things, you might not be ready to have sex. Delaying sex until you feel confident and comfortable will help you to make sure your first sexual experiences are safe and positive.
Alcohol and other drugs can affect the decisions you make about sex and practising safe sex.
People like using alcohol and other drugs when out socialising. The reasons for this are varied but can include:
Alcohol or other drugs can have negative effects on your sex life, and health more generally. Research shows alcohol and other drugs do affect the decisions people make about safe sex. Research also shows that people often state that they had unsafe sex because they were 'drunk' or 'out of it'.
Alcohol and other drugs can lead to you making decisions you wouldn't otherwise make. For example you may choose to have sex with someone you wouldn't have otherwise chosen, you might not use a condom whereas you normally would, you may regret having sex at all. During sex it's not uncommon for men to lose their erection after heavy drinking or taking other drugs.
If you are having a night out and think you might have sex with someone, it is important you make a decision beforehand about what you want to do. Once you have made that decision you need to stick to it.
If you think you might have unsafe sex once you have been drinking or taking drugs then you need to consider not drinking or taking drugs or reducing your intake so that you can stay more in control.
If you choose to inject drugs, don't share any injecting equipment including needles, syringes, swabs, filters, spoons, tourniquets, the mix, etc. Sterile syringes are available from pharmacies and Needle and Syringe Program outlets. The program is an anonymous and confidential service. See safe injecting for more information.
If there are no obvious symptoms then it is not possible to tell if someone has an STI, unless that person decides to tell you.
People can have an STI and not even know they do. This is one of the reasons why practising safe sex and seeing a doctor for a regular sexual health check-up is important.
Some people believe you can tell if someone has an STI based on the number of sexual partners they have, who they have sex with, if they dress well, or if they look 'clean' and 'healthy'. These beliefs are incorrect and often reflect the values and biases of the person making the statement.
Unless there are obvious symptoms, there is no way you can tell if somebody has an STI by judging the way they look, their sexual behaviour or hygiene.
There is no one type of person who catches STIs. Anyone who is sexually active can be at risk of catching an STI.
If you want to practise safe sex, then there is a range of things you can do to make sure you stick to that decision.
Your partner needs to respect your decision regarding safe sex - if they don't then you need to consider how much they value you and your beliefs.