This comes up A LOT at Scarleteen, so just a reminder:
If you think — or are saying to others — things like that if you are using a method or methods of contraception, then there is no risk of pregnancy, or if you are either using safer sex practices, or aren’t, but you and partners have not had previous sexual partners, or have but have recently been tested for all the STIs you each can with negative results that there is no risk of STIs?
Please understand that is false.
If and when we are engaging in the activities — or have been made part of them unwillingly via abuse or assault — that pose those risks, there will always be SOME level of risk there still, including when we are using things, like birth control, latex/nonlatex barriers and testing, to reduce those risks.
Those things reduce risks (sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot, depending on what all we are using and how well we are doing so): they do not remove them.
If you only feel comfortable with NO risk of these things — and it’s okay if you don’t; most people will choose to take some level of risk of them because they can handle that and want to have the kinds of sex that present those risks — then you have to choose not to engage in those activities. At all.
If you want reduced risks of either or both of those things, then you have to use things and practices that reduce those risks. If you want to engage in those activities with the lowest risks you can have, then you need to do things like using dual contraception, including one highly effective method, and be really serious about safer sex — using barriers all the time and for all the activities that pose those risks, always keeping up with testing and insisting partners do, too.
Again, there is no one right set of choices here: this is about what you are yours want and feel most comfortable with now and in the long-term.
But just so we all understand, there is no, for example, penis-in-vagina intercourse that poses NO risk of pregnancy (when the people involved have bodies capable of reproduction) or STIs, even with contraception and safer sex practices to the letter. Just like we can’t say we are going to go out and have no risk of catching a cold interacting with other people during cold season because we are washing our hands.
If NO RISK — none at all — is what you want or need for yourself, then you will need to choose not to engage in the activities that present those risks at all.
(And of course, if you want to find out how to reduce these risks with any activity, either of pregnancy or STIs, or want help figuring out what you even want and need around all this in the first place, we’re always available at Scarleteen with both the information on all of that and to talk with you about it, if you’d like.)
Do coldsores mean that you have Herpes? My friend told me that coldsores were a sign of an STI. I had my first coldsore when I was 9 years old and I was definately not sexually active. I haven’t had one since but I am afraid that I might be carrying Herpes. I know lots of people who get coldsores on a regular basis and I just don’t understand how all these people could have Herpes. I know that it is very contagious. Does having this mean that you can never have sex? Can you clarify for me? Thanks a bunch!
Heather Corinna replies:
Yes, coldsores are the oral herpes virus, or HSV-I. Your friend has it right.
Understand that most people do not contract oral herpes sexually, but through casual contact, and the majority of people with oral herpes contract it in childhood, just by doing things like sharing glasses with family members who also have oral herpes, or getting a smooch on the lips from your Aunt Myrtle who just spaced out being careful when she was about to get a sore, or didn’t know she should be. This is the big why in terms of why and how so many people have oral herpes: it’s very contagious, and it’s very easy to contract through daily things a lot of people just don’t even think about. In high school, I thought myself very continental and made a habit of kissing friends on the cheek or near the mouth as a routine greeting (As in, "Hello, darlings! Kisskiss!"): lo and behold, when I got mono, before I even knew I’d had it, I gave it to very nearly my entire junior class (mind, my class was only 22 people, but still). If I had had oral herpes, I could have given it to everyone the same way, just through friendly, nonsexual affection.
Having oral herpes doesn’t mean you can never have sex, or that you can never make out with someone. You just have to be mindful and careful.
Read the rest here