When we talk about safe sex, we’re really talking about safer sex – because all sex comes with some risk. No type of sex with a partner is guaranteed to be 100% safe, but you can greatly reduce your risk by practicing protection and prevention.

Protection Methods

Condoms

When it comes to protection, condoms are still the most effective way to prevent STDs. They protect you by preventing contact with bodily fluids, like semen or vaginal fluids, that can transmit an infection. 

Condoms can usually last a while in storage but they do have expiration dates, so you should check the packaging on your condom before using it. It’s also important to know that condoms can break down when they are stored improperly, like in a wallet or a pocket. The constant friction can create holes or microscopic tears in it which will make it much less effective at preventing STDs. Keep your condoms in a place like your bag or a purse! 

Richmond City Health District offers many brands to choose from including Magnum, ONE, Atlas and Rough Rider condoms – all for free! You can pick them up for free anytime you during their weekday business hours (8:00A-5:00P).

Regular Testing

Getting regularly tested for STDs is a basic part of taking care of your health. It is one of the most effective tools at stopping the spread of STDs – and the only way to know if you have an STD for sure. And if you do have an STD, it’s better to find out early so that you can get treated and prevent the spread of it to other people.

It can be a bonding experience for you and your partner to get tested together, and demonstrate that you care about each other by protecting yourself.

The sooner you find out you have an STD, the sooner you can get the care you need to stay healthy. Stop by our Testing Tuesday clinic, or check out the other free testing sites that our community members offer in the Richmond area.

PrEP

PrEP  is an anti-HIV medication that stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Taken daily, it can reduce HIV risk by up to 99%. Learn more about PrEP and how you can get it through Richmond City Health District here!

Common Questions

Safe sex is sexual contact that doesn’t result in exchanging bodily fluids between partners. Sexual contact that carries a low risk of STD transmission includes kissing, cuddling, massages, masturbation, and mutual masturbation.

Richmond City Health District and many of our community partners can provide condoms for free during their business hours. Check out their locations here, as well as when you can go in for free STD testing!

Richmond City Health District also offers a PrEP program that offers financial assistance to eligible applicants. If you want more information, check out our page dedicated to PrEP.

Vaccines are a safe and effective way to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and HPV.

HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 21. You should also get a Hepatitis B vaccine if you were not vaccinated at a younger age.

Men who have sex with men should also get Hepatitis A vaccinations, which can be spread through sexual activity.

Richmond City Health District offers an immunization clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hepatitis A vaccines are currently free to those who are at risk of getting the disease. For more information, call 804.482.5500.

Do you have more questions? Reach out to us on our contact form!

Have the Talk!

Often times, one of the most underestimated tools an individual has to practice safe sex is their ability to talk to their partner. Communication is already a huge part of any relationship, sexual or not. Extending communication to talk about things like STD testing and prevention measures with your partner leads to greater happiness and wellbeing in your sexual life.

One of DoingItRVA’s partners, Richmond Sex Ed Project, is a Richmond-based organization that fosters consensual relationships through interactive consent workshops and sex education. Their approach focuses on the development of empathetic communication skills, personal boundary awareness, and community building to strengthen individuals capabilities to increase consensual interactions and reduce harm within relationships. To learn more about their workshops, community events, and collaboration nights, visit their website.

Check out the helpful tips below when communicating with your partner about safe sex.

  • Try these things:
  • Use statements that focus on yourself. Say "I would like to wear a condom to protect us," instead of "you should really get on birth control".
  • Use reinforcing and positive language to get across the point that you care about your partner's health.
  • Clearly state your expectations for sex, and what you are and are not comfortable doing.
  • Make sure that you are listening, too. Conversation is a two-way street, and you should attempt to understand your partner's point of view. Ask each other questions!
  • Avoid these things:
  • Trying to control your partner's opinions or thoughts. Coming off as confrontational or judgemental can cause the conversation to cease, and can come across to your partner as writing them off.
  • Starting the conversation right when you're about to have sex. Talk about it before that moment happens so that you can be ready when it does.
  • Forcing it. Find the right time and place to have a conversation that is natural for you and your partner.
  • Doing anything you're uncomfortable with.

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