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What is safe and what isn’t?

Kissing, tongue kissing, snogging

What are you doing?

Using your mouth and tongue to touch each other's tongue, lips and mouth.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
  • Safe for STIs
    (If you or your partner have an STI in your mouth, there is a small risk of getting gonorrhoea, syphilis, thrush and hepatitis B.)
  • Safe for pregnancy

Massaging, caressing

What are you doing?

Caressing and massaging each other (all over your bodies) with your hands, with or without massage oil.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
  • Safe for STIs
  • Safe for pregnancy

Do you have sex after massaging each other? Make sure the condom doesn’t come into contact with the massage oil. Oil can make the condom tear.

Masturbating, fingering, jerking off

What are you doing?

Massaging the penis or clitoris and helping yourself or your partner to have an orgasm.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Usually safe for HIV
  • Usually safe for STIs
  • Usually safe for pregnancy

Small risk of HIV, STIs and pregnancy if semen, menstrual blood or mucus from the vagina or anus is transferred by one person’s fingers to the other person’s mucous membrane (lining of the body). During close body contact there is also a chance of passing on scabies or pubic lice.

Body rubbing, dry humping

What are you doing?

Rubbing your bodies against each other for sexual pleasure. With or without clothes on.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
  • Safe for STIs
    (There is a risk of scabies and pubic lice if you’re not wearing clothes.)
  • Safe for pregnancy

Contact between vagina and penis (without penetration)

What are you doing?

Your genitals are rubbing against each other or are very close to each other.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
    (unless pre-cum or semen enters the vagina)
  • Unsafe for STIs
    Risk of hepatitis B, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital warts, genital herpes and scabies.
  • Safe for pregnancy
    (unless pre-cum or semen enters the vagina)

Contact between vagina and vagina

What are you doing?

Rubbing your vaginas against each other or your vaginas are very close to each other.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
    (unless vaginal fluid enters the other vagina)
  • Unsafe for STIs
    Risk of hepatitis B, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital warts, genital herpes and scabies.
  • Safe for pregnancy

Contact between penis and penis

What are you doing?

Rubbing your penises against each other or your penises are very close to each other.

HIV, STIs

  • Safe for HIV
    (unless pre-cum or semen enter the urethra)
  • Unsafe for STIs
    Risk of hepatitis B, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital warts, genital herpes and scabies.

Having sex, penetrative sex

What are you doing?

Inserting the penis into the vagina and possibly having orgasms (coming).

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Unsafe for HIV
  • Unsafe for STIs
    High risk of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis, genital herpes, genital warts, hepatitis B, scabies and pubic lice. 
  • Unsafe for pregnancy

Cunnilingus, oral sex

What are you doing?

Stimulating the vagina and clitoris with your mouth and tongue.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
    (unless the person being licked has her period)
  • Unsafe for STIs
    Even without your period. Risk of hepatitis B, syphilis, genital herpes, pubic lice (if there’s a beard) and scabies.
  • Safe for pregnancy

Giving head, fellatio, oral sex

What are you doing?

Stimulating the penis with your mouth and tongue.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
    (as long as you don’t come in the other person’s mouth, which is unsafe for them)
  • Unsafe for STIs
    Risk of syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
  • Safe for pregnancy

Anal sex, anal intercourse

What are you doing?

Penetrating the other person’s anus with your penis.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Unsafe for HIV
  • Unsafe for STIs
    High risk of hepatitis B, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital warts, genital herpes,  scabies and pubic lice.
  • Generally safe for pregnancy
    But watch out: if the semen drips from the anus into the vagina, you could get pregnant. 

Rimming, oral-anal sex

What are you doing?

Stimulating the anus with your mouth and tongue.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
    (unless there’s any blood caused by anal sex or haemorrhoids)
  • Unsafe for STIs
    Risk of gonorrhoea, syphilis and hepatitis A.
  • Safe for pregnancy

Withdrawal method, coitus interruptus, pulling out

What are you doing?

Withdrawing the penis from the vagina just before ejaculation.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Unsafe for HIV
  • Unsafe for STIs
    High risk of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis, genital herpes, genital warts, hepatitis B, scabies and pubic lice. 
  • Unsafe for pregnancy

Sadomasochism, SM

What are you doing?

Sadism is becoming sexually excited by causing someone else pain or humiliating them. Masochism is experiencing sexual pleasure through humiliation and pain.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
  • Safe for STIs
  • Safe for pregnancy

Safe as long as no bleeding or skin cuts are involved, and the materials and objects used are cleaned well afterwards . 

Using sex toys

What are you doing?

Using sex toys such as dildos and vibrators to sexually thrill or satisfy yourself and/or your partner.

HIV, STIs, pregnancy

  • Safe for HIV
  • Safe for STIs
  • Safe for pregnancy

Safe, if you use your own sex toys or clean them well when you change partners. You can also use a condom on the toy, but put on a new one if you use the toy with another partner.

Apart from all the types of sex described above, there are lots of other ways to have sex. We obviously can’t cover every possible variation here. But the same applies to each and every kind of sexual contact: there is a risk of STIs, including HIV infection, if semen, vaginal fluid or blood from one partner come into contact with the mucous membrane of the other partner.