Welcome to the SNAKE A to Z of safe sex! Use the alphabet above to simply click your way down to the letter. If you do not understand an underlined word, just click it and you will be taken to the definition to learn more!
Abortion or ‘termination of pregnancy’ is a surgical or non surgical ending of a pregnancy. For more information, click here.
Abstinence means not performing any kind of sexual activities. For example, some people decide to remain abstinent until they marry. Being abstinent does not necessarily mean you are a virgin.
Adolescence is the period of life from puberty to adulthood when a young person grows up. All emotional and physical changes happen during this period.
Anal sex is stimulation of the anus during sex. It may also refer to the use of fingers, dildos, or other objects in the anus.
Asexual refers to a person who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which is a choice, asexuality is a sexual orientation. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and form intimate relationships. Many asexual people experience attraction, but feel no need to act out that attraction sexually. Instead feel a desire to get to know someone, to get close to them in whatever way works best.
Bacterial Vaginosis or ‘Vaginitis’ is not generally considered an STI; however unsafe sex may be the trigger for the infection and may cause symptoms to be worse. Some women are prone to this infection and it may tend to reoccur, even when treated. If you think you may have Bacterial Vaginosis, find your nearest doctor for a check up here.
Bisexuality refers to sexual behavior with or physical attraction to people of both genders (male and female), or a bisexual orientation. People who have a bisexual orientation “can experience sexual, emotional, and affectionate attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex”. For more information, click here.
Blue balls is a slang term used to describe aching ‘balls’ caused by prolonged sexual arousal that is not followed by an orgasm, this can be extremely painful. You can also get ‘Blue Balls’ after prolonged abstinence (no sexual activity).
Celibacy is the avoidance of all forms of sexual activity. This term is often used along with abstinence.
Cervix is the entrance to the female’s uterus. It is often referred to the neck of the womb or the entrance to the womb.
Chlamydia is an STI cause by bacteria which can affect areas such as the penis, vagina, anus, rectum, eyes and throat. It is the most common STI among young men and women in Australia and many people have no symptoms and can transmit it to others. If untreated, it can cause serious problems later in life. Click here for more information or to make an appointment for an STI check.
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, the fold of skin that surrounds the top of the penis.
Clitoris is the female sexual organ found in the area of the vagina where the ‘inner lips’ or labia minora meet. It is a small rounded area which is the only visible part of the clitoris and it is very sensitive to the touch. The clitoris size and shape vary considerably among women and is important for sexual pleasure in women.
Coming Out is the process of accepting and being open about one’s sexual orientation.
Conception is the first stage of reproduction, the point at which a sperm fertilises an egg.
Condom (female) is a seven-inch polyurethane pouch that fits into the vagina to to prevent pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Condom (male) commonly called rubbers or dingers, condoms are usually latex sheaths that fit over a penis and worn curing sex to prevent semen from entering the partner’s body after ejaculation. Condoms also prevent the penis from coming in contact with body fluids which can prevent you from getting some STIs. SNAKE Condoms is Australia’s first and only Indigenous-friendly, socially marketed condom brand. The logo was designed in consultation with young Aboriginal people, employing a blend of traditional and modern Aboriginal art. SNAKE Condoms come in colors of the Aboriginal flag: red, yellow and black. They are flavoured: black for chocolate, yellow for vanilla and red for strawberry! To find out where to pick up your SNAKE Condoms click here.
Consent is when one says ‘Yes’ to sex, without pressure or force. No one has the right to have sex with someone who does not want to or does not consent to it. You should never feel pressured or forced to have sex with someone before you are ready to.
Contraception, also known as Birth control, is designed to prevent pregnancy. Contraception options include: Hormonal Methods: the pill, NuvaRing, Implanon, Depo-Provera injection. Barrier Methods: male condom, female condom, diaphragm-cap. Intrauterine Methods: IUD Multiload, IUS Mirena. Permanent Methods: female sterilisation, vasectomy. Emergency Methods: emergency contraceptive pill/morning after pill, IUD. There are many forms of contraception Click here to find out more.
Crabs or ‘Pubic Lice’ Crabs are tiny lice that grip onto the hair in the genital area and look like tiny crabs. They can be found in pubic hair, as well as chest hair, armpit hair and even beards and eyelashes!
Cross-Dressing or being a transvestite is someone who wears clothing associated with the opposite sex in order to have fun, entertain, gain emotional satisfaction, or make a political statement about gender roles, for example, drag kings and drag queens.
Crush is a short-lived or temporary fascination or attraction to someone.
Depo-Provera is a hormonal contraceptive injected into a female to prevent pregnancy. It is injected by a doctor or nurse every 12 weeks.
Diaphragm is a barrier method of contraception, a dome-shaped rubber cap that the female inserts into her vagina and over her cervix before sex.
Dyspareunia is the clinical name for painful intercourse. The pain can be felt as burning, sharp, searing or cramping. It can be external, within the vagina, or deep in the pelvic region or abdomen.
Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that is not in the uterus. The fertilized egg settles and grows in any location other than the inner lining of the uterus with 95% of ectopic pregnancies occuring in the Fallopian tube. Pain is usually the first symptom of an ectopic pregnancy. It is very important to seek medical attention if you have sharp stabbing pains on one side, in the pelvis or abdomen and think you may be pregnant as an ectopic pregnancy can cause internal bleeding.
Ejaculation/ Ejaculating or ‘coming’ is when a male is sexually aroused and has an orgasm, resulting in expulsion of semen/ sperm through the tip of the penis. It is important to wear a condom while having sex because ejaculating inside a female can result in pregnancy. Sperm is also released from the penis before a male ejaculates, this is often referred to as ‘pre-come’.
Emergency Contraception is a hormonal contraceptive pill such as ‘the morning after pill’ that can be taken after unprotected sex to help prevent a pregnancy from occurring. The morning after pill can be purchased from a chemist or your doctor and should be taken within 24 hours after sex for maximum reliability but can be taken up to 120 hours after sex but may not be as reliable. This form of contraception should only be used in ‘emergencies’ as it should not be used more than a few times as it becomes less reliable. To obtain the ‘morning after pill’ simply get it over the counter at any pharmacy, or find out where your nearest doctor is here.
Erection commonly knows as a ‘stiffy’ or ‘hard-on’ occurs when the penis fills with blood, causing it to enlarge and stiffen. Erections can occur when a male is sexually aroused and can happen unexpectedly, which can be quite embarrassing, but it is normal, especially when going through puberty.
Erogenous zones are parts of the body that, when stimulated, elicit sexual arousal. Precisely which body parts are sources of sexual arousal is a very individual experience.
Erotica is commonly in the form of sexually explicit writing or visual images such as photographs, drawings and films. Devices made to vary or enhance pleasure during sexual activity, sometimes referred to as “sex toys”, are also considered erotica.
Estrogens are the female sex hormones that are released during puberty. When these hormones are released a number of physical and emotional changes begin in a woman. Hair will grow in the genital area, underarms and on the legs and her breasts will begin to grow. This is then often followed by a woman’s first period. Puberty is different for everyone and happens at different times.
Fantasy is a sexually arousing thought or mental image.
Female condom is a strong, soft and transparent polyurethane sheath inserted in the vagina before sex, providing protection against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It protects the vagina, cervix and external genitalia. A method of contraception that extends the choice of contraceptive methods available, and provides significant protection from the risk of pregnancy and from sexually transmitted infections including HIV.
Female Reproductive System includes parts inside and outside the body. The external female structure is made up of the clitoris, labia minora, labia majora, anus, vagina and urethral orifice. The internal female reproductive organs include: vagina, uterus (womb), ovaries & fallopian tubes. The function of the external genitals is to enable sperm to enter the body and to protect the internal organs from infectious organisms.
Female sterilisation is a form of surgical contraception that involves sealing off the fallopian tubes. It is sometimes referred to as tubal ligation, tubal occlusion, or ‘having your tubes tied’.
Fetishism is a fixation on an inanimate object or body part that is not primarily sexual in nature, and the compulsive need for its use in order to obtain sexual gratification. The object of a fetish is almost invariably used during masturbation and may also be incorporated into sexual activity with a partner in order to produce sexual excitation.
Fidelity when a couple promises to be faithful to one another.
Flirting is when someone shows an interest, liking or attraction to another person. This can be displayed by their actions or words.
Gay is a term to describe being attracted to someone of the same sex. People who are gay use this expression to describe their sexuality.
Genitals (or genitalia) are the sex organs in the pelvic region of both men and women. Male and female genitals are divided into external genitals (those visible outside the body) such as the male penis and female vagina and internal genitals (those that are inside the body).
Genital Warts are small fleshy lumps caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Similar to the warts you can get on your hands, these bumps appear around your genital area and are transmitted directly from skin to skin during sexual contact with an infected person. The wart virus may be associated with cell changes on the cervix, which if untreated, may develop into pre-cancerous changes of the cervix. Women who have been exposed to the wart virus need to have regular Pap Smears. If you think you may have this, find your nearest doctor for a check up here.
Gonorrhea, or ‘the Clap’ Gonorrhea is a bacteria STI that can infect the urethra, cervix, anus and throat. Like Chlamydia, if untreated, Gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
Gynecology is the branch of medical science that deals with the care of women, especially with reference to reproduction and the reproductive organs. A physician who practices gynecology is called a gynecologist.
Hepatitis B is a serious condition that causes inflammation of the liver caused by a virus that is passed on through vaginal and anal sex. Herpes or Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) There are two types of Herpes which cause small, painful blisters.
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Type I: Commonly called a cold sore. This is usually found around the lips and mouth and is passed by kissing HSV Type II: Usually found on the genital and anal area, these are passed through sex. If you think you may have Herpes, find your nearest doctor for a check up here.
Heterosexual is a person who is sexually attracted to the opposite sex.
Homosexual (gay/lesbian) is a person who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex.
Hormones are natural chemical substances made in the male and female glands (such as the pituitary gland) and carried in the blood to cause an organ to work; hormones act as “messengers” to control growth, reproduction, and body metabolism.
Horny is a term used by many to described being ‘turned on’ immensely or ‘sexually aroused’. You may experience increased heart rate, dilated pupils, feeling sexually excited, and for a guy, an erect/ hard penis, or for a girl, her vagina may become ‘wet’.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)- There are many different types of this virus, some of which are sexually transmitted and can lead to genital warts or changes to the cells on the cervix. These changes may lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. (See also ‘Genital Warts’).
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) HIV is a virus that causes damage to the body’s immune system and can be passed on by unsafe sex with someone who has the virus. HIV is only transmitted by the transmission of bodily fluids and blood, for example though sex and sharing needles. AIDS is a disease that usually occurs years after getting HIV and has another range of symptoms.
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the womb or uterus. Its also sometimes used as a female sterilisation technique, particularly if there are other problems associated with the uterus, such as Cancer.
Implanon is the name for a hormonal contraceptive inserted under the skin in the female’s arm to prevent pregnancy by slowly releasing hormones. It can last for up to three years, but does not give any protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections. The Implanon can have many side effects and is recommended that you talk with your doctor and do as much research as you can before having it inserted.
Impotence is a man’s inability to achieve or maintain an erection of sufficient firmness for penetration during intercourse.
Incest refers to sexual contact between close blood relatives. This behaviour can be forbidden by law, custom or religion.
Injectable contraceptives are Injections of natural hormone progesterone into the muscle which works by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg), as well as making the cervical mucus thicker (thus making it very difficult for sperm to enter the uterus) and makes the lining of the womb thinner (preventing the implantation of a fertilised egg).
Intra Uterine Device (IUD) A method of contraception that is made up of plastic and copper, and is implanted inside the female’s uterus.
Jealousy is an emotion that you can sometimes feel when you feel insecure or anxious about a relationship. Sometimes you might get upset or angry when your partner talks or does things with other people. If you don’t like the way that jealousy is making you feel, find someone close that you trust that you can talk to, otherwise call Lifeline for a chat on 13 11 14
Kissing is when two people touch their mouths together to kiss. Kissing also includes kissing other parts of the body.
Lesbian refers to women who are sexually attracted to other women.
Libido is the term used to label the sexual drive or sexual instinct of a male or female.
Lust is any intense desire or craving for gratification and excitement.
Male sterilisation, or vasectomy, is a form of permanent surgical contraception that involves cutting and tying the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis. Click here for more information.
Masturbation is the self-stimulation of the genitals to achieve sexual arousal and pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm (sexual climax). It is commonly done by touching, stroking, or massaging the penis or clitoris until an orgasm is achieved. It is a very common behavior, even among people who have sexual relations with a partner. In children and teens, masturbation is a normal part of the growing child’s exploration of his or her body.
Menopause is the last menstrual (monthly) period and is a natural part of every woman’s life. It means the end of a woman’s reproductive years, just as the first menstrual period, means the start. Menopause symptoms can begin gradually over two to six years before the last menstrual period. This time is called premenopause – from the time periods become irregular until the first year after that final period.
Menstruation is another word for the monthly female period or “time of the month”. The ‘period‘ which is discharge of blood and bodily cells, are shed from the lining of a woman’s uterus. Menstruation begins at puberty.
Miscarriage is when a pregnant women stops being pregnant due to natural causes. The most common symptom of a miscarriage is bleeding and stomach cramping. There are many different reasons why someone’s body will miscarriage a pregnancy and is often a difficult experience. If you think that you have had a miscarriage or want to know more click here to find your nearest doctor.
Mutual Masturbation or ‘dry sex’ is when you and your sexual partner touch each others genitals without having sex, for example, without the penis penetrating the vagina or anus
Oestrogen/Estrogen One of the two hormones in the contraceptive pill. It’s also a naturally occurring hormone in the body.
Oral Sex is when one person uses their mouth on another’s genitals for sexual pleasure, such as, a ‘blow job’.
Orgasms are sometimes called climaxing or coming, it’s the peak of sexual arousal in males and females, when all the muscles that were tightened during sexual arousal relax, causing a very pleasurable feeling that may involve the whole body. Also called a climax. Orgasms can be achieved by sex or masturbation.
Painful sex is when pain can be felt as burning, sharp, searing or cramping. It can be external, within the vagina, or deep in the pelvic region or abdomen. If you experience painful sex it is important that you visit your doctor for a check up, to find the closest doctor click here.
Pap Smear (Test) is where cells are taken from the cervix of a woman, by qualified doctors and nurses, to check that the cervix is healthy. It is important that you visit your doctor for a Pap Smear when you are sexually active. To find the closest doctor click here.
Parasitic STIs are Sexually Transmitted Infections cause by tiny animals such as pubic lice (crabs) and scabies.
Penis is part of the of the male genitals. The penis is made up of two parts, the shaft and the glans. The glans is the tip of the penis, while the shaft is the main part of the penis and contains the tube (urethra) that drains the bladder (peeing) and releases semen when he ejaculates (comes).
Period is another word for the monthly female Menstruation cycle or “time of the month”. The ‘period’ which is discharge of blood and bodily cells, are shed from the lining of a woman’s uterus. Period/Menstruation begins at puberty.
Pregnancy is the nine-month process in which a baby develops inside a woman’s womb or uterus. A woman becomes pregnant when she has sex with a male when not wearing a condom or contraception is not being used or it fails.
Prostate gland is an organ in the male reproductive system. The prostate gland makes nutrients that support and lubricate the sperm.
Puberty refers to the process of physical changes by which a child’s body becomes an adult body capable of reproduction. Puberty is initiated by hormone signals from the brain to the ovaries and testes. In response, the gonads produce a variety of hormones that stimulate the growth, function, or transformation of brain, bones, muscle, skin, breasts, and reproductive organs. Growth accelerates in the first half of puberty and stops at the completion of puberty. During puberty, major differences of size, shape, composition, and function develop in many body structures and systems.
Pubic lice/Crabs are tiny lice that grip onto the hair in the genital area and look like tiny crabs. They can be found in pubic hair, as well as chest hair, armpit hair and even beards and eyelashes! It is important to seek medical attention if you think you may have Pubic lice as they can be spead through sexual contact and even sharing towels and bed sheets.
Questions are important. If you have something that you want to ask, or if you want any information about safe sex, click here to find your nearest doctor.
Rape which is sometimes called sexual assault, is the act of forcing sexual intercourse or other sexual activity upon another person, without their consent and/or against their will. Rape is considered a serious sex crime as well as a civil assault.
Rimming is when one person licks another person’s anus for sexual pleasure.
Reproductive health implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. See www.mariestopes.com.au the sexual health and reproductive experts for more information.
Safe Sex People having sex while protected against pregnancy and STIs. Safe Sex is commonly referred to having sex with a condom (as opposed to not wearing protection). Safer sex reduces the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection. It includes: using a male or female condom during vaginal sex; using a male condom during anal sex; and abstaining from sex if you or your partner has a sexually transmitted infection or symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection. It is VERY important to always wear a condom when having sex! SNAKE Condoms is Australia’s first and only Indigenous-friendly, socially marketed condom brand. The logo was designed in consultation with young Aboriginal people, employing a blend of traditional and modern Aboriginal art. SNAKE Condoms come in colors of the Aboriginal flag: red, yellow and black. They are flavoured: black for chocolate, yellow for vanilla and red for strawberry! To find out where to pick up your SNAKE Condoms click here.
Scabies is a contagious skin infection. It is caused by a tiny and usually not seen parasite which burrows under the skin causing intense allergic reaction. Scabies are known to live without a human host for 24-36 hours. As with lice, scabies can be transmitted through sexual intercourse even if a condom is used. This is because scabies is transmitted from skin to skin contact at sites other than sex organs.
Scrotum is part of the male’s external genitals. Also called the scrotal sac, the scrotum is a thin-walled, soft, muscular pouch underneath the penis containing two compartments to hold the testicles.
Sexual Assault is behaviour of a sexual nature that makes you feel uncomfortable, frightened or intimidated. If someone has sex with you or touches you sexually or makes you watch sexual acts and you don’t want to do this, they are breaking the law. If you think you have been sexually assaulted call the police on 000.
Sexual intercourse (sex, making love) is the sexual contact or interaction of two or more people to achieve sexual gratification (pleasure) for at least one of them or for the purpose of reproducing.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) formerly known as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) which are any infection that are passed from one person to another person during sexual activity. Some STIs can be passed on through non-sexual contact, such as Scabies which can be passed on by sharing a towel, bed or clothing with someone infected. However, they are more commonly transmitted through the exchange of blood, semen and vaginal fluids or through skin contact during oral, vaginal or anal sex. STIs are one reason why it is extremely important to wear protection (such as condoms) while having sex, especially when you do not know your partner’s sexual history. To find out more, or to make an appointment, click here.
Spermicides are a form of chemical contraception that can be bought over the counter from your chemist or pharmacist and are usually used with condoms. They are available in the form of creams or gels. Spermicides work by killing or stopping sperm on contact thus making the sperm inactive and unable to pass through the cervix, and fertilise an egg. Like most contraception, they are not 100% reliable.
Sperm is produced by the testicles and are capable of fertilising the female partner’s eggs. Sperm cells resemble tadpoles if seen by the naked eye. Sperm is released from the penis when he ejaculates (precome (the fluid released from the male’s penis before he ejaculates) also contains sperm, this is they the ‘withdrawl method’ often fails). So it is a good idea to wear a condom if you do not want to get pregnant!
Syphilis is an infection that is caused by bacteria. If it is left untreated it can have serious consequences including spine, heart and brain damage.
Teenage Pregnancy, having an unplanned pregnancy is a very real consequence of having sex that forces you to make a very adult decision. However it is important to remember that if you are pregnant there are many people you can talk to about your options. You are not alone.
Testicles are the male genital glands that produce sperm for reproduction. They hang in a pouch, called the scrotum, between a man’s legs. The slang terms ‘balls’ and ‘nuts’ refer to the testicles.
Thrush (Candidiasis) is the name for an overgrowth of the (normal) yeast, Candida, in the mouth, vagina or penis. This can often result in itchyness or discomfort of the genitals with some people experiencing abnormal discharge. Thrush is very common and is not always sexually transmitted but it is important for your partner to recieve treatment for thrush if you show signs as your partner can be a carrier but not show symptoms. Click here to find your nearest doctor.
Transgender is a person who believes themselves to be of, or wants to be, the opposite gender. This means they can have male genitals but identify as being female (and vice versa). They may be attracted to either gender.
Trichomonas Trichomonas (often called Trich) is a bacterial infection caused by a small organism that lives in the bowel and vagina. It can also live for short periods of time in the male genital tract. It is usually sexually transmissible.
Tubal ligation/ Female sterilisation prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. After ejaculation, sperm normally swim up the fallopian tubes and fertilisation can occur of an egg that has been released by one of the ovaries (ovulation) and is on its way down the tubes. The fallopian tubes, which carry the egg down to the uterus, are blocked either by cutting and tying or by applying clips, clamps or rings. Alternatively, the tubes may be sealed off by being cauterised using an electric current
Urethra is the transport tube leading from the bladder to discharge urine outside the body. In males, the urethra travels through the penis, and carries semen as well as urine. In females, the urethra is shorter than in the male and emerges above the vaginal opening.
Vagina is the female internal sex organ that begins on the outside at the vaginal opening and ends at the cervix, or neck of the uterus (womb).
Vasectomy is the common name for male sterilisation, a permanent method of contraception. It is a simple surgical procedure which closes off the sperm-carrying tubes (vas deferens) in the scrotum to prevent sperm from getting into the seminal fluid you ejaculate. After the procedure, sprem produced in the testicles can no longer travel through these tubes to mix with semen, thereby the seminal fluid gradually becomes free of sperm.
Virginity describes a male or female who has never had sexual intercourse.
Virtual sex is the concept of two or more people exchanging digital information (including text messages, still pictures, video, audio, online messaging etc) with the intention of sexual arousal. Also known as ‘cyber sex’.
When deciding to have sex it is totally up to you. No one can decide this for you and it is totally different for everyone. It is very important you know all the facts before you decide to make that decision. See our ‘How will i know when i am ready to have sex’ page here.
Yeast infections are generally caused by an organism called Candida albicans or Candidiasis and there is no direct evidence that it is passed through sexual intercourse. (see Thrush)
Yes or saying yes means that you agree with what someone is saying to you or asking you to do. Don’t ever let someone pressure you into saying yes if you don’t want to. Remember, just because you say yes now, doesn’t mean that you will always say yes and you can change your mind whenever you want.
Zonked is slang for being drunk. Make sure that if you or your partner has been drinking and wants to have sex, that you don’t forget to use a SNAKE Condom! To find out where to pick up your SNAKE condoms or SNAKE merchandise click here.
For more information on Contraception and Contraceptive methods, visit www.contraceptioninfo.com.au Designed to introduce you to the different contraceptive methods available and to help you reach an informed decision about your options.