Bunch of bananas wrapped in colourful condoms
(C) Love Matters | Rita Lino

Staying Safe

If you go beyond kissing and caressing, it’s important to know how to have safe sex and talk about it with your partner.

This is unsafe

  • Intercourse (the penis inside the vagina) without a condom or another form of contraception such as the pill.
  • Penetrative anal sex (the penis inside the anus) without a condom.
  • Oral sex without a condom for a man or a dental dam (also called a vaginal dam – a square of latex to cover the vagina) for a woman.
  • Using each other’s sex toys without washing them in-between.

This is safe

  • Caressing, tongue kissing, cuddling, massaging, masturbating yourself or your partner.
  • Intercourse (the penis inside the vagina) with a quality approved condom.
  • Intercourse (the penis inside the vagina) with a quality approved condom to prevent infection and another form of contraception such as the pill to be sure of preventing unwanted pregnancy.
  • Oral sex without getting sperm or blood (for example menstrual blood) in your mouth.

Two is better than one

The safest way to have sex is using both a condom and another form of contraception, such as the pill. The condom protects you against many sexually transmitted diseases. The other contraceptive, such as the pill, is to make sure you don’t get pregnant. Because a condom isn’t 100 per cent effective. For more information, see the section on birth control.

Never use two condoms at once though.

What’s in a name – STD or STI?

What's the difference between an STI and an STD? You've got a sexually transmitted infection (STI) when you've been infected by bacteria, viruses, or parasites through having unprotected or unsafe sex. If the infection goes on to cause symptoms, such as unusual discharge from your penis or vagina, you've got a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Generally speaking, the only difference between an STI and an STD is whether you've got symptoms. Either way, you still have an infection that you can pass on to someone else. To keep things simple, we stick to the term STD at Love Matters.

Different types of STDs and STIs – bacterial, viral and parasitic

  • Bacterial STDs are caused by bacteria: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis.
  • Viral STDs are caused by a virus: genital warts (human papillomavirus, HPV), genital herpes (herpes simplex HSV-1, HSV-2), water warts (molluscum contagiosum), Hepatitis B, HIV (which causes AIDS).
  • Parasitic STDs are caused by parasites: Trichomoniasis (Trich), pubic lice, scabies.
  • Other infections that make it easier to catch STDs: bacterial vaginosis, candida (yeast infection).

The tricky thing about some STIs is that you can have them without noticing any symptoms, so you don't even realise you have an infection. But if you do have symptoms, it's important to get them checked out by your doctor/health care provider.

In women, the most common symptoms are:

  • Pain when you urinate
  • Pain when you have sex
  • Bleeding in between your periods or when you've had sex
  • Yellow, green, or bloody vaginal discharge
  • Strong vaginal odour
  • Itchy labia, vulva, or pubic hair
  • Anal discharge
  • Bumps, sores, warts, or blisters on the genitals or anus area
  • Abdominal pain

In men, the most common symptoms are:

  • Pain when you urinate
  • Pain when you have sex
  • Discharge from your penis or from your anus
  • Bumps, sores, warts, or blisters in the genital or anus area
  • Pain in one or both testicles

If you have symptoms or think you may have an STD do not ignore it! Make an appointment with the doctor or go to an STD clinic.

Most STDs are easy to cure, especially if you get treated early. If left untreated, some STDs can cause infertility (Chlamydia) or can be fatal (HIV).


Hey Noel, we appreciate your contribution. Between abstaining and condom use, abstaining is a better choice, indeed because of the human element in the use of a condom it can break or even slip off. However, condoms are effective when used correctly and consistently. One needs to use follow the steps that ensure correct use. Have a look at the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/using-condoms-dos-and-donts

Hi There, there is a risk since even without entering, it is possible for your partner to come into contact with your bodily fluids and you can also get into contact with his fluids. For instance, before ejaculation men produce another fluid known as precum, which can also pass infections, same thing applies to fluids produced by the vagina as a result of arousal. If the penis will come into contact with the vagina, it is important that you use protection. Check out this article for additional information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/sti-prevention/staying-safe

Hi Lennox, one condom is sufficient for protection of both unplanned pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Using two condoms at the same time increase the chances of the condoms slipping off or bursting. All you need to do, is to use the condoms correctly and consistently and they will offer protection. Check out this article for more information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/using-condoms-dos-and-donts 

Hey Moureen, oral sex with a condom is unsafe which means one can get an infection from the semen if their partner has an infection. If they have no infection then swallowing the semen will not have any negative effect. Check out this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/sti-prevention/staying-safe

Hi Oscar, this may or may not be a sign of an STI. If it is accompanied with pain in the testicles, rash on the penis, testicles or groin, discharge (a milky white, yellow, thick or thin substance coming from the tip of the penis) or even painful urination then this maybe an STI. On the other hand the itchiness may just be the result of hygiene or the kind of undergarment one is wearing. Wearing underwear of cotton material helps to absorbs sweat reduces the discomfort, and also wear undergarment that is not too tight. Check out this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis

Hello Gowi, first off one should not an expired condom or anything else that's expired. The first risk is that it will not work - it is likely to break - exposing one to the risk of getting infected with a Sexually Transmitted Infections and unplanned pregnancies. Aside from this it may lead to irritation. Condoms should be used correctly and consistently, part of correct use is making sure it is not expired. Check out the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/sti-prevention/staying-safe

Hey Hezekiah, a pimple may just be the result of hair growth. An StI will come with other signs such as painful urination, unusual discharge from the penis, swollen and painful testicles. If you have these signs, need to visit a medical centre for a check up. Check out this article for more information on STIs;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis/sexually-transmitted-diseases-myths-busted

Can a man know whether his woman had an orgasm when having sex? Does a women have orgasm everytime she has sex? Mwisho if a woman doesn't have orgasm everytime she has sex is this a medical condition to be treated? Thax.

Hey Lennox, you could ask your partner if she did have an orgasm, for some women because of the intensity of the orgasm they won't be quiet. For some this may not be the case and this why it helps to talk about it especially if you are not sure. Communicating during sex is an important part of sex and it helps to make the experience better for both partners. It follows then that a woman just like men may not have an orgasm every time they have sex. This maybe caused by a number of reason including psychological issues or just not knowing what will get ones partner to orgasm. It helps to get to know what will get ones partner to orgasm to try and make this happens each time you have sex. Check out the following articles;-  https://lovemattersafrica.com/making-love/orgasms/her-orgasms


Hi Kenny, it could be because during the first round you get sexually excited too quickly. There are afew things you can do to try and better control your ejaculation, check out the following article for more tips;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/making-love/sex-problems-how-to-overcome-them/how-to-overcome-premature-ejaculation

Hi Sly, aside from itching, are you experiencing pain when passing urine, has there been a drastic change in the smell, color or quantity of your vaginal discharge? If you are experiencing these symptoms it could be a sign of an infection, in which case you need to seek the services of health provider for further tests and treatment. 

Hi Godfrey, you could visit a government health facility where you will get STI treatment if you are indeed infected with an STI. Also, if you are in Kenya, have a look at the list in this article for options you can consider;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/get-help/clinics

Hi Jennie, aside from pregnancy there are other reasons that can cause you to have a delayed period. These may include, hormonal issues, change in diet or environment, extreme exercise, weigh gain or weight loss and stress. You may want to get a pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy. Check out this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/pregnancy/unsure-about-being-pregnant/am-i-pregnant

Hi Nelly, many times when a condom breaks during sex it is because it was not used correctly or perhaps an expired condom was used. It is for this reason important that one uses the condom correctly and also consistently. To also prevent pregnancy better, one should also use another method with the condom. If it has not been 72 hours from the time you last had sex, you could consider talking Emergency Contraception which can help prevent pregnancy when taken within the first 72 hours after having unprotected sex. If it has been longer than 72 hours, you will need to wait for atleast 14 days and then get a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant or not. Check out the following article for additional information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/sti-prevention/staying-safe


Joy Baroness
Thu, 12/06/2018 - 11:51
What is the chance that I can get a Sexually Transmitted Infection if the condom burst during sex but we changed after we noticed?

Hi Joy, if the condom broke, there is a chance that you were exposed. As to whether you were indeed infected, it’s important that you take a test to acertain this. But you did the right thing to get another condom once you realized that it had broken. Condoms will usually work well when used correctly and all the time. Have a look at the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/using-condoms-dos-and-donts

Will flavored condoms have any effect to my vagina? Second, I have seen some products that are meant to leave the vaginal smalling fresh are they safe to use inside vagina?

Hi Jayne, scented products can upset the natural balance of your visa a leading to infections. You can, however, use scented condoms for oral sex. Secondly, just like the scented condoms, scented cleaning products will also upset the natural balance. The vaginal has a natural smell and It smells in the way it does because it is meant to do so. The vagina can also clean itself, hence no need of such products. Check out the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/8-tips-to-keep-your-vagina-happy-and-healthy

Hello Koima, government issued condoms are of good quality otherwise the government would not have issued them. Male condoms are made of latex, and this is regardless of whether they are government issued or the branded ones that are sold. When a condom breaks during sex, it has to do with the use. It is important to follow directions when using a condom to ensure it works when. These include checking the expiry date, putting the condom on and how to dispose it after use. Check out the following article for more tips on correct use of condoms;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/condom

Hey Timothy, studies have shown that circumcision can reduce the chance of one getting HIV by over 60%. There has been no studies whether this work for all other STIs. Check out the following for additional information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/male-body/male-circumcision-and-its-side-effects

I have an STI that keeps coming back, it comes with itching, bad smell and some pain in vagina when urinating. I have been antibiotic but it's not working what can I do to treat it?

Hey Akila, it appears you may have an infection. Have you been self medicating or you were tested and treated at health centre? It is important that during the period you are on treatment you do not have unprotected sex and that you also complete the prescribe the completed medication. Should there be a recurrence of the infection, it is important that you go back to your health provider for a review. I suggest you visit a health centre for a test and treatment.  

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 14:42
I had a one night stand with a person that am not sure about her status. I remember getting a pack of condoms but I dont remember using any or finding the pack. I want to get tested for HIV and other STIs where can I get confidential testing? If it just happened afew days ago how soon can I get a test?

Hey, you can get tested from after 14 days especially for the HIV. Usually you can get such confidential tests from any government run facility. In the unlikely situation they cannot provide the test, they will be able refer you to a facility you can have this done. Also, if you are in Kenya you can have a look at the following clinics where you can get the services needed. https://lovemattersafrica.com/get-help/clinics

Hey Mukisa, penises comes in different shapes and sizes and therefore there is nothing abnormal about a bent penis. It should only be a concern if it makes it difficult for you to have sex, you are unable to gain or maintain an erection or you have painful erections. Check out the following article for additional information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/male-body/help-my-penis-is-bent

Add new comment


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang>