If you are having vaginal, anal or oral sex, condoms can help make it safer and more fun. Condoms have really changed. You can get them in all different colours, shapes and flavours. Try different kinds of condoms and see which ones suit you and your partner. More and more people are now finding that condoms are easy and sexy to use. You can also get female condoms. They are called Femidoms and are a tube-shape made of very thin material which lines the vagina.
Water based lubricants prevent condoms from tearing and make sex safer and more fun. Condoms with spermicide are not suitable for anal sex.
If you have any worries about your sexual health you can make an appointment at a sexual and reproductive-health clinic. You can get free condoms, safer-sex advice and treatment at these clinics. There is more information about how to get free condoms here. With all condoms, it is important to follow the instructions carefully.
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Talking about sex
Some people find it hard to talk about condoms and safer sex. It’s important to choose a time when you and your partner are both relaxed. Remember it’s very difficult to talk about safer sex when you are drunk, tired or already in the mood. Be honest about what you want. Tell your partner that you want to use a condom. You could suggest using the condom as contraception. By using a condom you are protecting your partner’s health as well as your own.
Oral sex (mouth or tongue licking the genitals) is low risk. But it’s not a good idea to have oral sex if the person doing the sucking has sores or cuts in or around their mouth. Don’t brush your teeth before oral sex if you often have bleeding gums. You can get condoms in lots of different flavours to use for oral sex. You can also use dental dams (thin sheet of latex available free on request from sexual health services) a barrier over the vagina or anus.
If you are worried about yourself or someone close to you, contact the National Sexual Health and HIV Helpline. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can phone free on 0800 567 123. If you are worried about drugs you can contact the National Drugs Helpline. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can phone free on 0800 77 66 00.