Three Low-STD Risk Sexual Activities

Sexual activity comes with risks, both emotional and physical, but not all types of sex are equally risky. There are a number of fun activities you can do with a partner that have a relatively low risk of STDs. As for emotional concerns, working with the notion of enthusiastic consent does a lot for reducing those risks as well. When everyone involved really wants to be there, and is making informed choices, there's a much lower risk of regret.


Close Up of Couple Kissing
Kissing Couple. Photodisc/Digital Vision/Getty Images

People don't always think of kissing as part of their sexual menu, but it's one of the sexiest and most intimate things you can do with a partner. Spending an evening kissing, laughing, and talking with a partner is a relatively low risk way of exploring physical intimacy while greatly expanding your emotional connection.

Risks: Kissing can spread the common cold and other types of respiratory or oral infections. It also has the potential to spread oral herpes. That risk is higher if your partner has an active cold sore.

Tip: If your partner has a horrible cold or sinus infection, making out is probably not the best way to spend the evening. Instead, consider taking a bath together, kissing their neck, or doing other things that avoid the risk of the two of you spending the rest of the week in bed together... sneezing instead of doing something more fun.

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Mutual Masturbation

Lesbian couple on bed
Lesbian couple on bed. Tony Garcia/Image Source/Getty Images

Some people refer to mutual masturbation as "fooling around." But if you've ever enjoyed getting hot and heavy with a partner using your hands, it's not a joke. Mutual masturbation, frottage, and similar activities can be incredibly erotic and have the potential to lead to orgasm for one or both partners.

Risks: With clothing on, the main risk of mutual masturbation is falling off the couch, the bed, or wherever you're playing. If you're using hands in intimate places there is a slight risk of transmitting HPV or other pathogens that can hang out under your fingernails. However, that risk is relatively low and it can be reduced even further by using gloves and/or good hand hygiene. (That means nails should be clean, smooth, and short before putting them in delicate places - whether you're wearing gloves or not.)

Tip: If you have long nails that you want to protect, you can put cotton beneath/around them before putting on gloves. That will protect both your manicure and your partner's skin. 

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Oral Sex (With Protection)

Noviembre Anita Vela/Moment/Getty Images

Oral sex isn't safe sex. There are a number of STDs that can be spread orally. However, it can be made relatively safe sex by using barriers. Fellatio with a condom is pretty low risk. So is cunnilingus or rimming with a dental dam. As such, this intimate and pleasurable activity can be made reasonably safe, even if it isn't inherently.

Risks: As mentioned above, the risks of protected oral sex are minimal. Without protection; however, oral sex can transmit herpes and HPV as well as more treatable conditions such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. The risk of HIV transmission is pretty low, but that's rarely the only thing that someone is worried about.

Tips: Safe oral sex can be hot oral sex. You can do things like putting a condom on with your mouth or use a fun colored or flavored dental dam. Reducing risk doesn't have to mean reducing pleasure, just changing it into a new type of erotic experience -- one with less worry that expands the opportunities for joy.

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