Current Students

Having safer sex

Further information

  • Student Condom Scheme
  • Getting sexual consent

'How to' guides

Not sure how to use barrier protection?

Here are a few guides from SRHWA to help you use each type correctly.

Dental dams [PDF, 238.4 KB]
Updated 21 Apr 2015

Sex toy safety [PDF, 221.5 KB]
Updated 21 Apr 2015

CondomsSafer sex is about taking responsibility and respecting your own health and the health of your partner to protect each other from sexually transmitted infections.

Every sexual activity comes with some kind of risk, even if you use barrier protection. Knowing about the risks can help you to make informed choices about how you want to be intimate and which safer sex materials you will use. You may also decide not to be sexually active, the choice is up to you. 

Before you start each kind of sexual activity, it is essential that you check that all people consent, every step of the way. 

External condoms (male condoms), internal condoms (female condoms) and dental dams are barrier options to protect you and your partner from STIs. 

Vaginal or anal sex 

Both people are at risk of giving and getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during vaginal or anal sex. The risk of transmission is higher if there are any cuts or grazes on either person.

Anal sex offers a greater risk for STI transmission (including HIV) as the tissue inside the anus is sensitive and is more likely to tear, allowing bacteria and viruses to enter the bloodstream. 

Having unprotected anal sex followed by vaginal sex can also lead to vaginal and urinary tract infections (UTIs) as bacteria is passed between areas. 

How to protect yourself and your partner during vaginal or anal sex:

  • Use a new condom for each act of sex (including if you swap between anal and vaginal).
  • Reduce friction by adding lubricant. If you are using latex condoms, make sure you use a water-based lubricant to protect the condom from tearing. Lube will also help to increase sensation!
  • Remember that pregnancy is also possible with penis to vulva contact, so you may want to use another method of contraception.

Oral sex

Oral sex is when you stimulate someone's genitals with your mouth. This could involve sucking or licking their vulva or clitoris (also known as 'going down' on someone or cunnilingus), penis or testicles (also known as 'giving head' or fellatio) or anus (also known as 'rimming' or anilingus). 

During oral sex, STIs such as herpes or chlamydia can be transmitted between mouth and genitals or from genitals to mouth, so it's important to use a barrier to protect each other. 

How to protect yourself and your partner during oral sex:

  • Use a condom when giving oral sex to someone with a penis.
  • Use a dental dam (thin, square piece of latex) over the vulva or anus to act as a barrier between your mouth and their genitals. If you don't have a dam available, you can use cling wrap or cut a slit in a new condom to make a flat barrier.
  • Use a small amount of lubricant inside of the dam or condom to increase sensation.
  • When you use a dam, only use 1 side. If you turn the dam over you can still expose yourself to STIs. Do not use the same dam twice or on multiple body parts.

Sex toy safety

If you're sharing sex toys such as dildos, butt plugs or vibrators, make sure you use condoms or dams to prevent the spread of STIs between people. If switching a toy to another person, use a new dam or condom each time.

Don't insert a toy in the mouth or vagina once it has been in contact with the anus as this may spread bacteria and viruses and cause infection.  

For more information on sex toys, visit the sexuality section of our website.  

Negotiating safer sex

Talking about safer sex with your partner can be an embarrassing and scary prospect for some people, particularly for those who may be in a casual sexual relationship or with their first sexual partner. But discussing safer sex options with your partner is important and it doesn't have to be as embarrassing or awkward as you think.

Having a conversation with your partner about using barrier protection before you have sex may help to make you feel more comfortable, get prepared and use protection in the heat of the moment. Try and keep any safe sex equipment within arms reach so it's available and ready when you need it. 

This can also be a good time to find out what your partner wants, when you each last had an STI test and whether you need to get one together to be safe. 


We provide free condoms and dams to UWA students at the Medical Centre through our SHARE Student Condom Scheme