Healthy living

Safe sex

What is safer sex?

Safer sex means not allowing your partner's body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids) into your body and vice versa. It can also mean covering up parts of the body that might be infectious (such as herpes, sores or warts) when you are having sex.

How can I have safer sex?

The only way to be 100 per cent certain of never getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is never to have sex at all.

If you do want to have sex, there are ways that you can reduce your risk of catching or passing on an infection.

  • When used properly, condoms are the most effective way to reduce your risk of getting or passing on an STI.
    Find out more about male and female condoms.
  • Have a long-term relationship where neither of you is already infected, and neither of you has other partners.
  • Limit your sex partners – the fewer people you have sex with, the less chance you have of having sex with someone who has an STI.
  • Have regular STI checks.

Talk to your partner

Talking about STIs can be difficult, but any person you have sex with has a right to know if you have an infection. Discuss it when you’re feeling relaxed and confident, not just before you have sex. Your partner will appreciate your honesty and that you don’t want to infect him/her.

You also have the right to know if your partner is infected with an STI. Find out more about contact tracing.

Where to get help


  • Condoms are the most effective way to reduce your risk of getting or passing on an STI.

Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Anyone can be a HealthySexual: talk, test, protect