While preaching safe sex can seem pretty obvious and old-hat at this point, in our communities it is even more important to practice safe sex because there is usually a greater number of people affected by our decisions. It's also important to understand that because swingers and other non-monogamous folks look for confirmation that they can trust new play partners (even casually at events), having a reputation for not practicing safe sex can greatly effect whether potential partners will be interested in playing with you at parties. Here are some important tips for practicing safer sex, especially when enjoying play parties.
1. Always Use Protection
Perhaps this seems silly and obvious for some of our members but it has to be said: always use protection at play parties. There's no way to tell if someone has an STI (or STD) sometimes as there is often no apparent symptoms. Don't risk yourself and other people you may come in contact with by being careless with your sexual health. Penetrative sex either vaginal or anal is the highest risk for transmission of STIs and you should always use a properly fitting condom. Oral sex has a low chance but there is still some risk so feel free to use a dental dam (plastic sheet). You only really need to worry about oral transmission of STIs if a partner has an outbreak such as a sore from herpes or a cold sore. If there is no sore, then you're very likely safe from transmitting an STI orally.
2. Wearing Protection is Assumed
As a rule, it is always a good idea to assume that people will want to wear protection at play parties. In fact, most swingers and other non-monogamous folks will be immediately turned-off and probably decline playing with you if you ask to play without protection. Furthermore, if a potential play partner asks for you not to use protection, you should be wary of them and question whether they practice safe sex regularly.
3. Always Use Fresh Protection between Partners
This tip seems like common sense but when sexy-times are happening it can often be forgotten. Always use a new condom or other sexual health tool (dental dams, etc) when playing with another partner. If you are going back and forth between partners in a threesome, swap or orgy, always change your condom for each new person. This also goes for oral or fingering. Wash your face or hands before playing with another person. Do not go from fingering one person to fingering another random person before cleaning up. While STI transmission is quite low when you do oral or fingering on different people, there is still a chance and it generally is considered poor form in the play party community.
This goes the same for sextoys, put condoms on toys and use a new one if you are playing with a different partner. Do not use a sextoy (even externally) on one person then use it on another person without protection or cleaning it.
4. Be careful about Lube
Using lube is a great idea when playing with folks, regardless if you think you need it or not (see Why Use Lube Blog) but make sure you use the right lube. When playing with latex condoms and dental dams, always use water-based or silicone lube. Never use oil-based lube including coconut oil. This will immediately breakdown the latex and make the condom or dam completely useless on contact.
5. Types of Condoms
There are many different condom brands, sizes and types on the market. Finding the right condom for you can be tricky and experimenting is usually how you find your favorite. Some people have reactions to condoms, this may be because they have a sensitivity or full allergy to latex or often times it is the lube on the condoms that people are sensitive too. You can find latex free condoms most places but it is more tricky to find non-lubricated condoms but they are out there.
Often people believe that flavored condoms are more likely to break. They are often cheap condoms but they are not necessarily more likely to break. Rather flavored condoms are simply bad for the body and usually taste like hot garbage with bananas on top. We do not recommend you use flavored condoms in general and especially at play parties because they are often flavored with sugar which can causes irritation and even yeast infections for those prone to them. Instead, get a non-lubricated condom and add flavored lube if you're seeking that flavored taste. It will be less likely to cause problems and will probably taste better too.
One massive failing of the condom industry is that sizing sucks. There is no regulated sizing and you really do have to experiment to find one that actually fits. Often penises vary so much in sizing both length and width on top of differences in angles that a particular condom brand just might fit better for one reason or another. If you have such a penis, bring your favorite condoms with you to play parties. Don't assume the free condoms will include your favorite brand, instead just make sure that you always carry your own. The same goes for anyone with sensitivities or allergies, bring your own just in case.
6. Get Tested Regularly
We talk about testing during vetting but to reiterate, we recommend that if you are playing often at parties and do wear protection (highly recommended) then you should get tested every 3-4 months and if you choose to play unprotected (consensually) then you should be getting tested every time. If your doctor is not supportive of testing you for STI's this often then consider going to a sexual health clinic. If you are a Ontario resident then it is free and can be incredibly quick and simple to do without having to deal with judgy doctors and nurses.
Note: it can take more than 2 weeks for HIV to show in your blood so be aware of this if you are afraid that you may have contracted HIV and want to get tested. Play completely protected until you are able to get tested and get the negative results.
Sexual health is the cornerstone of our community and making sure that everyone values it is our job as organizers and everyone's job as community members. It is NEVER okay to remove condoms without consent (sheathing) and can absolutely result in being charged with sexual assault. Even if you don't have other partner's sexual health to worry about, always take care of your own.
Written by Alexandria
If you have questions or comments, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org