Having a healthy sex life
There’s a huge range of sexual activities, some you’ll have heard of, others you won’t – therefore, there is no straightforward answer!!
Whilst one person may regard masturbation as ‘sex’, another person may only think of ‘penetration’ when it comes to sex.
There is also no right or wrong way to have sex. What matters is that it feels right for you. Above all, sex should be consensual, safe and fun.
Our interest in sex continually develops throughout our lives. Thinking about having sex and experimenting is completely normal – whether this is in a fantasy, exploring your own body, or with a partner(s).
Use the navigation on the right to see some of the hot topics people ask us about when it comes to sex.
What is safer sex?
We use the term safer sex, as no sexual activity can be 100% risk free, but if condoms are used correctly, with plenty of water based lube for anal sex, you should be able to concentrate on the fun part.
Don’t forget that infections can be passed on through oral sex, and so barriers such as dental dams or condoms can be used for extra protection, but we understand that many men may choose not to use condoms for oral sex.
Regular sexual health check ups are the best way of looking after your sexual health. If you are having lots of sex with different sexual partners we recommend a check up once every six months.
Don’t forget - safer sex is everybody’s responsibility.
Negotiating safer sex
Some people decide not to use condoms.
There are a variety of reasons for this; some people think that their sexual partner(s) would tell them if they needed to use condoms, or that they aren’t at risk because HIV because is something that happens outside their social and sexual circles. Other people are just too embarrassed to talk about condoms altogether.
The thing is; condoms are the best way to prevent HIV transmission. The next time you’re thinking about having unprotected sex, take time out to think about the following:
Can you be sure that just because someone looks healthy and doesn’t tell you they are positive, that they will be negative? About one third of people living with HIV don’t even know it themselves.
Why use a condom?
A lot of people think that sex without a condom is much better, but it is worth remembering that you only have to have unprotected sex once to end up putting yourself at risk of acquiring HIV or any other Sexually Transmitted Infection.
Fact: The most common route of HIV transmission amongst gay men is through unprotected anal sex. Body fluids in the bum mean that HIV can be passed on easily, either to the man shagging or to the man being shagged.
Getting used to condoms
A condom is still the best way of avoiding picking up HIV and STI’s (if it is used correctly with plenty of water-based or silicone-based lube). There really is no better way of protecting yourself (unless you abstain from penetrative sex altogether).
So, condoms are the most effective way of protecting ourselves against HIV and STI’s. But a condom on its own won’t do the job. Sometimes they tear or split because we don’t know how to use them properly.
A condom that doesn’t fit properly can split or slip off. Whether your penis is large or smaller but perfectly formed there is a condom tailor made for you. Remember girth is just as important as length. Condoms are available in different widths as well as lengths.
LGBT Foundation's Free Men's Safer Sex Packs are freely available across Greater Manchester and many other cities have similar schemes. You can also check out suppliers on the internet, they’re often much cheaper than supermarkets and chemists.
Never unroll a condom before applying it to your cock and try to pull it on. Air can get in this way increasing the likelihood of splitting. Also don’t tear the packet with your teeth you might puncture the condom inside.
Have a posh wank!
Getting used to putting on condoms properly can be turned into a fun night in. Practice on yourself and enjoy the sensation of wearing a condom with the added bonus of making less mess!
Always follow guidelines on the packet and get your partner to help. It’s a good idea for them to distract you by caressing you elsewhere! We can all get impatient to get it on and get on with the job, learn to relax!
Whether you have been using condoms for years or have recently become sexually active, here are a few tips on using condoms:
- Be careful not to put a condom on inside out - Pinch the teat at the end to expel air then roll firmly down the penis with the other hand being careful not to snag the rubber on any jewellery, nails or rough skin.
- With rubber, never, EVER use oil based products like Baby oil or Vaseline - Oil based lubes dissolve latex rubber and can cause condoms to break. Silicone and water based lubes are the best.
- Use plenty of lube - Without enough lubrication, condoms can stick causing friction and tearing. An arse isn't as moist as a vagina and spit doesn't do the job properly.
- Don’t put lube on your cock before slipping it in the condom - This can make it too slippy and prone to sliding off. Put it outside the condom and inside the arse/vagina.
- If you’re involved in a marathon session - (anything over 30 minutes qualifies as a world record attempt) change the condom as it will be stressed and more likely to break.
- Condoms can get left behind when you withdraw after cumming - To avoid this, form a secure ring with your fingers around the condom at the base of your cock and hold on as you pull out.
If you are unsure about any of the above, it is best to follow the instructions which come with your condoms.
What if we want to stop using condoms?
- Talk to your partner about the idea of not using condoms when fucking each other.
- Both go for a sexual health check up (including HIV testing) and share the results with each other.
- Continue using condoms for another 3 month - this is the ‘window’ period for HIV infection.
- Go for another HIV test and share the results with each other again.
- If you are both are HIV negative, you could then make the decision to stop using condoms.
This ‘agreement’ involves trusting your partner(s). If either of you have unprotected sex outside of the relationship, it is important to tell each other and use condoms with each other.
Having unprotected sex outside of the relationship whilst continuing not to use condoms in the relationship can put yourself and your partner(s) at risk of contracting HIV.
Sex & Relationships
Starting to go out and meet other people is exciting but can be nerve-racking at the same time. It’s important to remember;
- Meet in a public space - you have to protect yourself, especially when meeting up with a stranger. Always let your friend/flatmate/parent know where you’re going and have your phone fully charged, just in case!
- Have a friend to hand – as tacky as this sounds, it’s important to have an escape plan!
- Trust your instincts – If the person you’re meeting is giving you signs that make you uncomfortable or uneasy then trust your gut and leave. Not every date has to be successful.
- Focus on the present – You just might meet that special someone, but don’t rush it. Live in the right now and don’t worry about putting a label on your relationship straight away. Make sure you and the person you’re dating have regular conversations to make sure you know where you both are emotionally. Talking is key!
- Monogamous / Exclusive
In some monogamous relationships partners may decide/ feel pressured to stop using condoms. The most important thing is to talk openly with your partner!
Some people feel like sex might become boring after a while, but talking to your partner openly about what you might want to try can really spice up the bedroom. The benefit of exclusive partners is they know you and won’t judge you! Sex is fun and when it’s with someone you trust it only adds to the fun.
- Polyamorous / Open
Some people may choose to be in ‘open’ or non-exclusive relationships where each partner can choose to be with other's too. Some people may choose to have threesomes, foursomes or moresomes; it’s important to remember that this type of relationship is just as valid as a monogamous one.
The key to open relationships are that both parties consent to being in an open relationship and secondly that safe sex is being practiced with any other sexual partners outside of the relationship.
- Serodiscordant relationships
Serodiscordant is the term used to describe couples where one of the partners is HIV and the other partner is negative.
If your partner is HIV positive, take the time to understand the condition and how it affects his daily life. You’re in a relationship with the person not the virus!
Just like any other relationship it’s important to talk, safe sex is imperative and making sure you can support each other. Support in a relationship is not a one way road.
- Both partners are positive
Even if you and your partner are both HIV positive, this does not mean that you are not at risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Other STD’s in the body can significantly increase the risk of health complications.
Life stressors affect us more than we like to think sometimes. Anything and everything can shape a relationship from;
- Differences in background
- Work/ Career pressures
- Financial burdens
The important thing to remember is to create an open and understanding environment that’s unique to your relationship.
- Get to know and understand each other’s family patterns, find out how conflicts were approached in each other’s families.
- Discuss one thing at a time;it’s very tempting to list and drag up all the things that have been building up and bugging you before the argument. This won’t help at all and will in fact extend the duration of the argument.
- Clarify your message; if you can’t be direct with your partner, who can you be direct with? Elaborate on your needs; for example “I would like you to hold my hand more often” rather than “I wish you were more affectionate” can lead to a positive improvement in your relationship.
- Be willing to negotiate and compromise; you're never going to want 100% of the same things but change and being challenged is a positive thing when done properly.
- Do your best to treat your partner in a way that says “I love you and trust you, I want to work this out.”