Love life


Certain hygiene measures play a key role in safer sex as they reduce the risk of infection.

  1. Sex toys
  2. Anal douching
  3. Substance use
  4. Tattoos and piercings
  5. Personal hygiene

Sex toys

Sharing sex toys can lead to a smear infection. This means an infection caused by contact with contaminated objects (germs on surfaces). How to protect yourself from a smear infection:

  • Clean and disinfect sex toys before and after every use.
  • Clean and disinfect sex toys, in particular before sharing or borrowing someone else‘s.
  • Use condoms when playing with sex toys. Always use a new condom when switching from one person to another and/or orifice.
  • Use lubricant (lube) to reduce the risk of injuring skin.

Anal douching

Sharing anal douches can lead to smear infections. Clean and disinfect the anal douche before using it, sharing it, or borrowing someone else’s.

Substance use

If you use drugs and/or other substances (such as anabolic steroids), sharing syringes, needles, straws and other paraphernalia increases the risk of HIV and hepatitis infections. How you can protect yourself:

  • Use your own paraphernalia (e.g., syringes, needles, straws, bottles, spoons, filters, thinners).
  • Don’t share your paraphernalia (e.g., syringes, needles, straws, bottles, spoons, filters, thinners) with others.

Tattoos and piercings

When getting tattoos or piercings, bear in mind the following to protect yourself from HIV and hepatitis B and C:

  • Use sterile equipment when getting tattoos or piercings, or choose a studio with professional hygiene standards.
  • Never share equipment with others.

Personal hygiene

It’s important to remember that if you’ve been diagnosed with an STI, it’s not because of a lack of personal hygiene. However, hygiene does affect your transmission risk:

  • Regular grooming means you’ll notice symptoms sooner.
  • Shaving the genital area can lead to small nicks in the skin, which increase the risk of HPV transmission.
  • Excessive intimate hygiene – particularly using soap on the vulva or glans, or regular douching – upsets the balance of healthy bacteria in the mucosa. This allows germs to spread more easily. It’s better to just wash the vulva or penis with water and to avoid douching.

Your Safer Sex Check

Do the personal Safer Sex Check now to get individual recommendations on protection and testing.