Tools to Prevent STIs
What are good tools to prevent sexually transmitted infections?
There aren't a lot of options out there specifically for Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming people, so sometimes we have to get a little creative with how we use protection. Here are some old and new tricks that can help you stay healthy.
The Penetrating Condom
The best condoms for preventing HIV transmission are made from latex or polyurethane. While lambskin condoms are effective in preventing pregnancy, they are not appropriate for the prevention of disease transmission. Lambskin condoms have microscopic pores in the membrane, which many disease-causing microbes can pass through. When using a condom, it is important to avoid using oil-based lubricants (e.g. Vaseline, baby oil, hand creams), as oil will weaken and eventually destroy latex. Instead, use water-based or silicone lubricants, as these will not destroy latex.
For some trans people, a finger cot might be a good option, but you still need to cover the mucous membrane outside of the clitoris that excretes lubrication.
The Female or Receptive Partner Condom
The receptive partner condom (while it is more commonly known as the female condom, we prefer receptive partner condom to avoid associations with gender) is a loose-fitting polyurethane tube fitted with soft, flexible rings at both the open and the closed ends. The receptive partner condom is inserted into the vagina/front hole or rectum prior to sex. Because it can be inserted up to several hours before intercourse, the receptive partner condom provides the receptive partner with a safer sex option under their own control that does not depend on the cooperation of the penetrating partners. Sometimes pre or non-surgical male-to-female transwomen may use receptive partner condoms on their genitals if they are no longer able to achieve erections.
For more info:
A dental dam is a square sheet of latex or polyurethane, which is placed over the labia/front hole/transcock or the anus to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids during cunnilingus (oral-vaginal stimulation) or analingus (oral-anal stimulation). Dental dams can be found in some places where condoms are sold, but they can also be made by cutting a condom or latex glove. Plastic wrap (i.e. Saran Wrap) can be used for this purpose, as well. If you plan to use plastic wrap as a safer sex barrier, make sure that you do not use "microwaveable" plastic wrap, as this kind of plastic wrap is perforated with tiny holes which makes it permeable to infectious agents. Often taking testosterone can cause growth in a female-to-male transman’s genitals making dental dams an uncomfortable barrier for oral sex.
Latex or nitrile gloves can be used for a variety of activities, including penetrative (vaginal/front hole/anal) sex with your hands. Gloves can also be altered to use for oral sex with transmen/FTMs/transmasculine people. To alter a glove for this purpose, cut the fingers off of the glove and then cut along the pinky side of the glove. The thumb of the glove is placed over the transman’s phallus while the rest of the glove is spread out over the labia/front hole/vaginal region.
Lube keeps your genitals wet during sex. It also reduces the amount of friction and the chances for injury. Water-based lubes are best, especially if you’re using latex condoms. This helps prevent tears in the anal vaginal, or front hole lining. This is important, because it will help prevent you and your partner from getting HIV or an STI.