So you’re about to have sex with a new partner? This is a very exciting step in any new relationship; but it can also be a little awkward and unnerving – particularly when it comes to making sure that we’re having “safe sex”; that is, preventing unplanned pregnancy and steering clear of STIs.
In 2018, doctors at Zava carried out research in eleven countries on issues such as sexual health, contraception costs and contraceptive responsibility, and found that the United Kingdom had the best access and availability to contraception – where access to safe contraception is universal and most birth control options can be obtained for free. But despite the prevalence of contraception in the UK, that doesn’t mean it makes having The Talk with our partner any easier. Here’s our advice on how to do it without killing the mood. And yes, this talk should really take place before things start getting hot and heavy.
Ask yourself: am I ready?
The moment has come where Marvin Gaye’s renowned song has become a reality…Let’s Get It On.
Before you do get it on though, make sure that, first and foremost, this is what you want. Do you feel comfortable and ready? Relationships move at all sorts of different paces and it’s important that we don’t compare ourselves to others when it comes to something as intimate as sex.
However it is you’re feeling, talk with your partner. If you’re not feeling ready: tell them. If you’re feeling ready but you’re not sure that they are: ask them. Don’t assume your partner is necessarily on the same emotional page as you – and never feel pressured to be on the same page as them.
The only way to find out what the other is feeling is to talk about it. If you feel awkward highlighting the elephant in the room – own it. Chances are they feel as awkward as you do, but talking about sex with confidence is, in itself, very sexy and bound to get the words flowing on both sides.
Establishing the norm of open communication about sex from the start sets the standard and is a key ingredient for a healthy (and good) sex life.
You and your partner are ready – now what?
Ask your partner when their most recent sexual health screening was and if they’ve had any other sexual partners since that last check-up. We know it can feel embarrassing and awkward, but avoiding this topic can lead to a variety of problems down the line – and why put yourself in a high risk situation?
It’s better to be confident and sure. If they haven’t been tested recently and you don’t feel comfortable moving forward, ask them if they’d be open to making an appointment at their sexual health clinic. Or, they can pick up an STI test at a pharmacy or order it online. If they say no and react badly, perhaps you don’t know them as well as you thought.
Sex with a new partner doesn’t only mean penetrative sex, it can also include all the other wonderful sexual activities like oral sex, fingering, foreplay and so forth. Whichever skin-to-skin contact you’re carrying out, make sure you feel confident knowing that you’re helping to protect yourself and your partner(s). Here are some of the ways you can have safer sex in a new relationship
Male condoms are typically made from latex (though you can get non-latex ones), and cover the penis to stop semen entering the vagina. They can protect against pregnancy and STIs. There are loads of different types of condoms available, so choose whatever size, texture, colour, thickness – and even flavour – you prefer. There’s no reason why safer sex shouldn’t be fun – and delicious!
Female condoms – or internal condoms – go inside the vagina and provide a barrier between the vagina and the penis during penetration. They’re typically made from polyurethane instead of latex, which is great for people who have a latex allergy. Though a little more fiddly and less widespread, they – like male condoms – also protect against pregnancy and STIs.
Both types of condoms can be used for safe anal sex too. And, if you’re sharing sex toys with your partner, condoms can also placed over the dildo, vibrator or other toy to protect against STIs.
Another fabulous thing about condoms is that they can be used to make a homemade dental dam. What on earth is a dental dam? Well, it’s a thin sheet of latex or polyurethane that protects against direct mouth-to-genital or mouth-to-anus contact during oral sex and reduces your risk of exposure to STIs. If DIY isn’t your thing, ready to use ones can also be purchased online.
There are two types of contraceptive pill: the combined pill, which contains a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone (called a progestogen) and a synthetic form of oestrogen; then we have the progestogen-only pill (also called the “mini pill”), which just contains progestogen as the active ingredient.
Hana® is a progestogen-only pill containing the active ingredient desogestrel.
Both types of contraceptive pills are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. But note that contraceptive pills do not protect against STIs – only condoms and can do that.
Contraceptive pills are frequently prescribed by a doctor or other suitably qualified person. However, some progestogen-only pills containing desogestrel like Hana® can be bought over the pharmacy counter (or online) with no need for a doctor’s appointment. You can buy Hana® over the counter following a face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist. Remember, pharmacists are highly qualified medical professionals, so they’ll help you figure out what’s right for you.
Alternatively, you can buy Hana® via HanaDirect following the completion of an online checklist. Your answers are then reviewed by a pharmacist and you’ll be notified when your order has been authorised and processed. Your discreetly packaged 3-month supply of Hana® will then be delivered straight to your door. Find out more about what Hana® is and how to buy it online!