There’s no such thing as safe sex. That said, you can have a full but healthy sex life if you remember to follow the safe sex guidelines that experts have developed. After all, one single night of great sex can turn a lifetime of regret.

If you can’t remember the following ten tips, then write them down with a felt marker on your wrist every time you’re in a situation where you may have sex. Do this until they’re indelibly etched in your brain — right next to the spot where the law of always backing up your computer files sits.

  1. Learn to say no.

    No one ever died from sexual frustration, but you can’t say the same thing about sexually transmitted diseases. Just because you haven’t had sex in a long time and the opportunity presents itself doesn’t mean that you should give in to those urges. The less you know about a person, the greater the likelihood that he or she can infect you with a disease. So learn to say no to casual sex.

  2. Limit your number of partners.

    When you have sex with someone, not just the two of you are in the bed. Hiding under the covers is every partner with whom that person has ever had sex, and the partners of those partners.

  3. Don’t rely solely on your instincts.

    Many people out there really believe that they’re disease free when, in fact, they’re not. Some sexually transmitted diseases invade a host’s body and cause absolutely no symptoms, and these people can honestly, but incorrectly, tell you they’ve never had any diseases. They truly believe that they can’t infect you, but in fact they truly can.

  4. Never dull your senses when you’re with strangers.

    Many people have wound up having sex because they were high, under circumstances that they would never have said yes to had they been sober. In these cases, you won’t be thinking safer sex, assuming you’re capable of thinking at all. And the same goes for the person you’re with, too. To practice safer sex you have to be responsible. And to be responsible, you have to have all, or at least most, of your faculties operating.

  5. Discuss safer sex in advance.

    The closer you get to the point where having sex is just on the horizon, the harder delaying going ahead will be.

    If you plan to insist that this potential partner get tested for AIDS, then you can expect a six-month waiting period before you can engage in intercourse. So the sooner you bring the topic to the table, the sooner you can begin having sex.

  6. Use condoms.

    When it comes to safer sex, you can’t make any exceptions to this rule. Make sure you have one with you, and remember: Condoms don’t offer absolute protection against sexually transmitted diseases, but they’re far better than nothing.

  7. Develop a relationship before you have sex.

    The key to safer sex is to not have sex with anyone until you have developed a relationship with that person. If you get to know someone really well, if you’ve been dating for a while, if you’ve had long talks about life and love and know their sexual history — if, after all that, you really believe that having sex (using a condom, of course) is reasonably safe for the two of you, then you may decide to go ahead.

  8. Don’t engage in risky behavior.

    At the time that you engage in risky behavior, a certain thrill may come with the moment. But when you’re lying in a hospital dying, that thrill won’t be a happy memory but a nightmare that you’ll live through over and over until the end. Get help if you can’t stop risky behavior on your own.

  9. Don’t forget about the other STDs.

    AIDS is only one of many sexually transmitted diseases. Although you may be with somebody who you suppose doesn’t have AIDS — and you may even be right — that doesn’t mean that you’re safe from catching an STD. Some are so contagious that they can spread without sexual intercourse; many are incurable; and some can spread even if a condom is used.

  10. Don’t sell your other options short.

    If you seek pleasure and not progeny, then you have plenty of other ways to get sexual satisfaction without undertaking the risks of intercourse. If you really feel the need for sexual release, but you don’t know the person all that well, don’t sell these safer-sex practices short. You can get sexual satisfaction without having any regrets later on.

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