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Op-ed: Is Great Safe Sex Possible?

Op-ed: Is Great Safe Sex Possible?


We've all heard the tired arguments about why condoms are terrible. Renato Barucco has a few solutions.

Safer sex is terrible. Just terrible.

Safer sex ruins the mood, it interferes with the fluidity of passion, it's a hassle, and it's just not hot.

Condoms? They're the worst. They don't feel good, they are tight, they break, they hurt, they are the ultimate enemies of gushy erections.

Safer oral sex is absolutely off the table -- who wants to go down on latex?

Those are just a fraction of the numerous reasons collected by researchers, medical providers, and health educators. If those beliefs are vividly active in people's minds and sexual experiences, it's understandably challenging to promote safer sex.

There isn't much prevention initiatives can do, nor there should be, for folks who are well aware of the risks associated with unprotected sex yet consciously opt for bareback fun. But for those who contemplate safer sex while struggling with the perceived disadvantages, there are a few possibilities to take under advisement.

1. Challenge that big, thick, juicy organ of yours.
Your brain, of course. The brain is a sexual organ that is morphed by sex hormones. There is indeed a male brain and a female brain, and a gay cerebral circuitry and a straight one. Emotions, expectations, adrenaline, and thoughts have a fundamental impact on sexual adventures. Sex is more than friction. Mental arousal is powerful -- you can get over having to use condoms, but if your environment doesn't stimulate your brain, there won't be triumphant pleasure. On the contrary, there might be a thin barrier between genitals, but if minds are in gear, expect a great ride on the carousel of life.

2. Don't be it, dream it.
Explore imaginary sub-worlds. In line with tip number 1, fantasy is an incredible tool to enhance protected sex. Make it an interactive experience: Talk to your sexual partners about your fantasies, about your closeted desires. Role-play situations that are otherwise improbable. It doesn't mean you have to rush to the store and buy Batman and Robin costumes (although if that works, it works). Verbalizing a fantasy, discussing it with your partners, sharing naughty thoughts is all you need to create lingering excitement that can later erupt during sex.

3. Know your shields.
The idea of protected oral sex is remote in many minds. Interestingly, very few folks have physically touched a dental dam, let alone licked one. How can they have an idea of the tricks you can play with its elasticity, the depth you can reach with its protection? Condoms come in different dimensions, textures, tastes. There are condoms with the colors of the flag of your favorite country. Play with them, laugh with them; sex doesn't always have to be so intensively serious. You might find it electrifying to jiggle your excitement wrapped in a fluorescent and glowing condom. Know your opportunities before you reject them. Explore, experience, make your world larger: Try the female condom for anal intercourse, put on your partner's rubber using your mouth, heat up penetration with warming lube.

4. Take a walk on the wild side.
Bondage, domination and submission, and sadomasochistic (BDSM) activities are generally at low risk for transmission of diseases, unless we consider extreme practices that may include exchange of body fluids, like cutting and medical submission. Although BDSM is not everybody's cup of lust, there seems to be increasing interest around it, as all those 50 shades of gray can attest. Once informed consent, trust, and agreements are set, deepen your interest in these somewhat atypical scenarios, from masked three-ways to blindfolded encounters; from dungeon basements of gags and whips to leather and handcuffs.

5. Call upon all avatars.
The Web expands people's ability to know and share, to create sexual narratives between what is real and what will never be. In chat rooms, video sharing platforms, Tumblr pages, men and women indulge in individual sex elicited and solicited by communal dialogues. You might be alone in your room, but you are connecting with other lively sexual creatures in their solitary spaces. It's an interactive form of masturbation. Viruses may be involved, but they only harm your computer. Better your devices than your genitals, I say.

6. Focus on the whole.
Exactly, the whole, w included. The entire body is a sexual entity made of unexpected erogenous areas. Men and women who focus their attention only on genitals miss out on unexpected perceptions, sensations, chills (and could develop performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, and all sorts of anorgasmic experiences). Instead, take on the whole body: Breathe on the eyelids, let ice cubes melt in his inner thighs, kiss the area behind the knees, wash her hair, lick the skin between the genitals and the anus. These activities and many others can very safely produce intense arousal.

Give it a try. Good lovers make magic with or without condoms. Do you still think that safer sex can't be fun? Well, sexually transmitted infections don't appear to be fun either.

RENATO BARUCCO is the Transgender Family Program Manager for the Community Healthcare Network -- Bronx Health Center.

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