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A Germophobe’s Guide to Safe Sex

Let's get dirty, but not —

germophobe

One of the “benefits” of being a germophobe is that practicing safer sex is second nature to us. I mean, it’s frankly a miracle that I — a germophobe — manages to overcome my thoughts to have sex at all sometimes. Because most people, who can be very nice, are also crawling with germs — especially if they’re getting in the mood without taking a shower first!

Trust me, nothing makes me lose interest faster than having anxiety before, during, or after doing the deed because I’m thinking about germs. If I feel reassured, I’ll feel a lot more relaxed, confident, and into it — and you.

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Step one: Clean kissing

teeth

Sure, kissing is considered a “low risk” activity, but the human mouth still contains surfaces that can harbor bacteria — up to ! 

So before we start, I’m going to ask if you brush, floss, and use mouthwash religiously (but not right before or after — brushing teeth, and flossing, before or after, may cause tiny tears, increasing the risk of STI infection). Instead, let’s swish some coconut oil (which ) in our mouths before we get started.

Plus, there are still certain conditions and diseases that can be , like colds and flus, mono, and cold sores. So I’ll need you to tell me upfront if you’ve recently had any of these conditions. If so, kissing might be off the table for the time being.

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Step two: Clean touching

phones

So germophobes are a little sensitive about touching, too. You are absolutely going to have to wash your hands before we start anywhere under the shirt. Why? Well, depending on your hygiene habits, hands can be contaminated with anything from traces of feces to the flu, and cause serious gastrointestinal illness as well as certain respiratory infections. If your hands are visibly dirty, that’s no good for sexy times.

And in any case, you should practice good handwashing. Just look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s . Hand-washing is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of germs.

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Step three: Clean sex

condoms

OK, so we’ve managed to kiss and touch with minimal germs transmitted. Maybe we get naked. Here’s where I have to specify that before your hands, mouth, or other body parts touch any of my lower-body parts, we must use protection. Vaginal and anal sex carry the risk of passing along diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, herpes, and human papilloma virus (HPV).

So, condoms, female condoms, or dental dams — yes, even for oral. Why? Well, oral sex chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and . So if we have oral sex, we’ll be using condoms or dental dams, and if we have intercourse, there will be a condom involved.

Get tested, regularly, for me and you

I’m going to be truthful and upfront about my test, but you need to be honest with me about any diseases and conditions too. If you have any sores or warts in or around your genitals or anus, stop and get tested. Don’t have sexual contact with anyone until you’re in the clear.

Safe sex can be fun, and as a bonus, we’ll both feel good about knowing we’ve had safer sex. Of course, after sex, there’ll be clean up, that includes ourselves and whatever surfaces we’ve come in contact with.

Maybe we’ll consult this . Apparently, enzymatic cleaners are the best for removing protein-based stains.

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Janine Annett is a New York-based writer who focuses on writing picture books, humor pieces, and personal essays. She writes about topics ranging from parenting to politics, from the serious to the silly.

Article resources
  • HPV and oropharyngeal cancer. (2017).
  • Kissing and your health. (2014).
  • Kort R, et al. (2014). Shaping the oral microbiota through intimate kissing. DOI:
  • Oral sex. (n.d.).
  • Oral sex and STIs. (n.d.).
  • Wilton J. (2011). From exposure to infection: The biology of HIV transmission.
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