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Safe sex is an important part of a fun, enjoyable and healthy life. We have pulled together everything you need to know about safe sex, what you can do to protect yourself from sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and where you can go for more information and support.

STIs can be passed from person to person during sexual activity with someone who already has an STI.

Sexual activity includes:

  • penis in vagina (vaginal sex)
  • penis in bottom/anus (anal sex)
  • licking, sucking, kissing partner’s genitals (oral sex)
  • sharing sex toys

You might have heard of common STIs including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV and herpes. But, if you haven’t heard the term STI before, don’t worry! It might be because you’ve heard these types of infections referred to as STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) instead.

Many STIs have no signs or symptoms so you may not know if you or your partner have one until you get an STI test. The good news is that there’s plenty of ways to protect yourself and still have lots of fun. It’s also easy to get an STI test here in Australia.

Safe and healthy sex can sometimes seem confusing, but with the right information you can feel confident that you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself, and still have fun along the way. Here’s how.

What is safe sex and how can I protect myself from STIs?

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from STIs. The best way to protect yourself is to have safe sex.

Protecting yourself by having safe sex is where you make sure you:

  • use condoms during vaginal, oral and anal sex. Condoms will prevent chlamydia and other STIs from being passed on. Make sure you change condoms between partners and when sharing sex toys. Get all the condom facts here.
  • use condoms or dams during oral sex. Dams will prevent skin to skin contact during oral sex of the vagina or anus. Dams prevent chlamydia and other STIs from being passed on. Read more about STIs and oral sex here.
  • test for STIs and HIV every 3-12 months. It is important and part of a healthy confident sex life.
  • talk to your doctor about taking preventative medicine called PrEP if you are at risk of HIV.

How good are condoms at preventing STIs?

Condoms are the best way to protect against STIs. In fact, they’re 98% effective at protecting against STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea when used correctly.

As well as preventing STIs, condoms protect against unplanned pregnancy as well. Now that’s what we call a win-win & peace of mind! To learn more about condoms and how to use them, you can click here!

Although condoms are the best way to prevent STIs, they don’t protect against every single one. Some STIs like herpes and genital warts can be passed on from skin-to-skin contact. If you have been diagnosed with these STIs and have symptoms, it’s best to avoid having sex to protect against these STIs being passed on.

 What do I do if I think I have an STI?

There are two important things you need to do if you think you have an STI.

1. Get an STI test

The first thing you’ll need to do is to get an STI test. This is usually done by providing a urine sample, a self-collected swab or a blood test. These types of tests help diagnose common STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea and can also diagnose blood-borne viruses like HIV.

Whatever tests you need though, don’t worry. STI tests are easy, confidential and nothing to be ashamed about. You can find out where your closest testing location is here! Book an STI test near me.

If you would like an interpreter to help you access health services or information, please contact the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.

2. Don’t have sex until your results are back

The second thing you’ll need to do is to not have sex until you know your results, and if you tested positive, have started your treatment for STIs. This is because even if you use condoms while you wait for your test results you’re still at risk of passing on any potential STIs to your partner/s.

The safest thing to do is to avoid having sex while you wait for your results (it should only take a week!). If your STI test comes back positive your doctor will advise you on treatment and what to do next. Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and other STIs can all be treated.

 Healthy and safe sex is simple

Looking after your sexual health is simple. Use condoms and get an STI test every 3-12 months, if you’ve had unprotected sex, have changed sexual partners, or display any symptoms. You also need to make sure you get consent any time you have sex. Find out more about consent here.

Hear what some of our students have to say about safe sex and STIs…

Where to go for help & support

For information and support about chlamydia, other STIs and your sexual health, you can call the Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 (free call) to speak to a specialist sexual health nurse. It’s free, confidential, and non-judgemental. You can also find the answers to you questions on the International Student Health Hub.

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