The rules of sex are actually pretty simple: be considerate, get active consent, focus on pleasure, and be safe. But silly things can happen when people get over-enthusiastic, do something in the heat of the moment, forgo protection, or decide to "experiment" without the proper background knowledge. I don't want you to end up with a chipped tooth, STD, unwanted infection, or any nasty side effects. And that, boys and girls and everyone non-binary, means being careful about what you put into your mouth during sex.
Yes, I recognize that I sound like your mother. However, there are ways to do all the filthy things you'd desperately love to do and also keep yourself safe and uninjured. Experimentation and new things are excellent, but if you're thinking of introducing ball gags into the mix, everybody in the bedroom needs to be educated about how they work and how to communicate with one on. And no, you shouldn't randomly look around the house for "fun" things to use as improvised gags — I don't care what ideas you got from E.L. James.
Here are five things to never, ever put in your mouth when you're caught up in the heat of the moment. Everybody needs to have a fun time, and that does not include a mouth infection, herpes, or an indignant trip to the dentist the next morning.
1. Any New Partner's Genitals Without Protection
If you've just started having sex with somebody (or it's a one-night thing) and there's no information as to whether you're both clean, a condom or dental dam is a necessary for all things involving your mouth. I don't care if it's not sexy. No test, no bareback for oral. It's that simple.
Even if nobody's showing any signs of anything, you should know that many STDs are symptom-free; statistics suggest that up to 80 percent of people with herpes infections may have no idea because they're either asymptomatic or show very mild symptoms. Nobody can say anything for sure about their own sexual health without a full diagnostic. And until then, no unprotected genitals near the mouth — nope, nada, absolutely not. (This also goes for open wounds if you're doing blood play, but if you're that far advanced in BDSM practices I am hoping very strongly that you know what you're doing.)
2. A Ball Gag (Without Knowing How To Do It First)
Introducing a ball gag into play without either partner knowing how to deal with it properly is going from 0 to 100 really fast. You may think they look cool and sound eminently sexy, but they're also an obstructive device, and you need to educate yourselves on how to use them safely and find out what particular kinds are right for you.
Finding a proper guide is essential; LoveHoney can take you through the different types of ball gags (there are many options to suit particular needs, from obstructive ones that require breathing through the nose to others with attachments like reins), while UberKinky guides you through the necessary safety procedures, like the fact that ball gag users need something other than a safe word to demonstrate that things need to stop (they suggest clicking fingers). If you're buying from a reputable shop, talk to the sales assistants, and never be afraid to ask detailed questions; this is a matter of your and your partners' safety and enjoyment.
3. Improvised Gags That Could Damage Your Teeth
I know the 50 Shades phenomenon has made everybody more experimental, but please keep in mind that your teeth aren't made of adamantium. If you're keen on gagging but don't like the idea of ball gags, it's worth investing in something proper that's actually intended to keep breathing safe and your mouth protected. Leather bit gags are a good idea, as are plastic ones; both need cleaning after use, obviously, but they won't chip against your teeth and cause issues. Don't put a metal bar or part of a wooden bedstead into somebody's mouth and assume everything's going to be OK.
If you're improvising, only use soft materials, make sure they go over the tongue and not under it, and don't use anything with metallic or hard elements that could come loose or scrape against gums or teeth. (The same rule goes for tying somebody up: nothing that can hurt their skin, please.)
4. Any Body Part That Has Touched An Active Herpes Sore
Herpes, as most people will know, comes in two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. The first is mostly oral, the second mostly genital, but they can be passed back and forth. Herpes sores are most commonly spread by skin-to-skin contact, particularly during sex, but it's crucial to remember that they're not just restricted to mouth-to-genital, mouth-to-mouth, or genital-to-genital contact. The virus can be spread by other means too — particularly the fingers, which can carry it from an active sore to a mucous membrane in the mouth.
If your fingers have touched an active herpes sore (by "active" I mean blisters and open sores), you need to wash your hands immediately and not touch anything else. Planned Parenthood recommends you be fastidious and keep your hands away from your eyes or contact lenses, too.
5. Anything That's Been In Contact With Anuses
This may seem rather obvious, but with the recent surge of discussion about oral anal sex (analingus, as displayed in a scene in Girls ), it's important to emphasize the inherent risks of any kind of anal play without protection. Sex toys, fingers, and genitals that have been in or around the anus must be thoroughly washed before they go anywhere else; taking something from the anus directly to the vagina is an almost-guaranteed recipe for infections, particularly urinary tract infections.
If you're wanting to try out analingus, it's recommended by experts that you use a latex shield (lubricated on the anus side) so that you reduce risking the spread of bacteria from anus to mouth — and that's even it's with a long-term partner who's washed beforehand. It's particularly important if you have any cracks in the skin of your mouth or lips, but it's good practice all the time.
Want more women's health coverage? Check out Bustle's new podcast, Honestly Though, which tackles all the questions you're afraid to ask.
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