healthy swingers swinging
Each sex-positive community in this country has
had a different response to the AIDS crisis, and in the face of
a very frightening disease it is hard for me to fault people for
acting irrationally sometimes. However, I believe the time has come
for a more intelligent, pleasure-positive, and long-term response
to STDs (of all kinds) than "excluding bisexual men,"
"inquiring about sexual histories and hoping for the truth,"
"trying to reassure yourself about how few people in your community
you think are infected right now," "stigmatizing anal
Learning to use latex and water-based lube skillfully
may take a little practice, and ultimately it is up to you and your
partner whether you will follow some or all the precautions I'm
going to describe. However, try to keep in mind some of the payoffs:
increased protection from disease, increased peace of mind, increased
protection against pregnancy when another form of birth control
(such as the pill) fails, and greater ease in interacting with younger
swingers who may have never known a time when they haven't felt
it necessary to use latex.
Put simply, the single most effective thing you
can do to stay healthy when swinging is to use latex condoms for
intercourse; this practice is now extremely common in the swinging
community, and is often expected.
All condoms are not made alike; men should experiment
with different brands until they find the one they like best (my
preference is Kimono MicroThins, which also taste fine for fellatio
if you get them without Nonoxynol-9). When you put on a condom,
pinch its tip as you unroll it (all the way down!) to prevent an
air bubble from forming in the reservoir tip. For intercourse, you
should then put some water-based lube (such as I-D, ForPlay, Wet,
or Astroglide) on the outside of the condom for comfort, mutual
pleasure, and to keep the condom from tearing during sex.
For a while, health experts were recommending that
people use condoms and water-based lubes with Nonoxynol-9 to help
guard against HIV transmission; current evidence suggests that,
in the real world, N-9 is not nearly as good at HIV prevention as
it has proved to be at contraception. Also, many women are allergic
or sensitive to N-9, and it tastes horrid. For these reasons I only
purchase products without N-9, but of course the choice is yours.
It should be obvious that a new condom needs to
be put on for each new partner. If you're going to switch from anal
intercourse to vaginal intercourse, you should also put on a new
condom (doing otherwise can cause vaginal infections - similarly,
you shouldn't put any fingers that used to be in an anus in a vagina
without first washing your hands with hot water and anti-bacterial
Some men find that more sensation is transmitted
to them if they put a drop of water-based lube in the tip of their
condom before putting it on.
Opinions differ on the use of safer-sex barriers
for oral sex. It is clear that herpes can be easily transmitted
during unprotected oral sex, but some people argue that if herpes
sores aren't visible on either partner and neither partner believes
he or she is infectious, that the risk of transmission is low. There
ARE recorded cases of HIV being transmitted via oral sex, but many
swingers dismiss this concern because the risk of transmission via
this route is apparently low, and because (in their opinion) HIV
is not widespread in their community. Ultimately, it is up to each
of us to set our personal standards for risk, and it is not my place
to dictate what yours should be.
If you choose not to use barriers when performing
oral sex, you can make things safer for yourself by not having flossed
your teeth immediately before the party (which can make the gums
less able to keep pathogens out of the bloodstream), by not letting
men come in your mouth, by not performing cunnilingus on a woman
while she is menstruating, and by knowing what herpes sores look
like (herpes transmission is most likely when either sores or the
tingling sensation that precedes the sores is present).
If you decide your personal standards include using
barriers for oral sex, this will mean using latex condoms for fellatio
(choose a brand without Nonoxynol-9) and either saran wrap or one
of those "Glyde" or "Lixx" oral sex barriers
for cunnilingus (put a drop of water-based lube on your partner's
side of the barrier to increase the sensation transmitted to her).
The use of barriers for oral sex is not widespread
in the swinging community, but if you and your partner decide your
safer sex standards include using them you'll probably find that
the concept is not that difficult to explain to people.
If you've had your fingers in someone's vagina
or ass, or had someone come on your hands, it's a good idea to wash
your hands with hot water and anti-bacterial soap before touching
your eyes or genitals (or anybody else's).
If you're planning on doing a lot of play with
your fingers in someone's ass, or if you want to avoid having to
constantly leave for the bathroom to wash your hands, you might
try latex "examination" gloves (available at most drug
stores); just use a new set of gloves when switching from one person
to another or when switching from someone's anus to their vagina,
just as you would with condoms. Of course, whether you use gloves
or not, some water- based lube will make everything that you do
inside your partner feel better for him or her.
Using latex gloves is currently even less common
than using barriers for oral sex (except when it comes to anal play),
but in my experience most people who are aroused and attracted to
you will happily go along with almost any safety standard or emotional
need you articulate as long as they think they're going to get sex
as a result.
Safer Sex Kits
It's helpful to get a little hip pack for your
safer-sex supplies, your small bottle of water-based lube, pieces
of paper to write your name and phone number on, and anything else
you commonly need. Although safer-sex supplies are provided at some
parties, it's still nice to know that you have with you the supplies
and brands you prefer. Also, having what you need with you at all
times will make it MUCH easier for you to maintain whatever safer-sex
standards you have chosen.
You may be interested in knowing that a permanent
vaccine is available for hepatitis B. If you're planning on spending
a lot of time in the swinging community (or any other lifestyle
potentially involving lots of sex with different people), it might
be worth your time to get this vaccination.
Play Safe !
It's easy to jump into swinging with both feet
and have a great time, but sometimes it doesn't go as smoothly
as we would like. With this in mind, I've expanded the advice
section to include a new section on safety. The pages in this
section each apply to different situations. If you're new to swinging,
or an experience swinger, take the time to learn from other swingers
we're not trying to scare you away from swinging,
we're just trying to make sure that you don't come to any harm.
People who are new to swinging often have a few problems early
that put them off swinging for a while. we're no different, after
our first time, it took six months before we built up the courage
to try again.
opening your relationship to others, is like
any other sexual activity, it has some risks. Its really important
that you practice safe sex when you swing, simply becuase of the
number of potential partners that could be affected by a sexually
transmitted disease. If you're unsure about safe sex, then read
our general advice on safe sex, advice on oral sex and advice
on anal sex.