Use the risk o meter control below to explore which elements of sexual behaviours fall into which category. Just click or tap on the appropriate low, medium or high area.
The following behaviours and activities are classed as low risk.
As there is no physical contact during virtual sex (also known as ‘cyber sex’, ‘online sex’, ‘phone sex’ or ‘sexting’) there is no risk of sexually transmitted infections to either partner.
However, there are other risks:
Find out more about safer virtual sex.
The following behaviours and activities are classed as medium risk.
When practised between partners, masturbation is a medium risk activity, but is a no risk activity if you do it alone.
If you masturbate by touching or being touched by a partner:
Find out more about safer masturbation.
Most sexually transmitted infections can be passed on through unprotected oral sex. It can be low risk if you practise safer oral sex.
The risks from oral sex can be reduced if you:
Find out more about safer oral sex.
Using sex toys is a medium risk activity for most sexually transmitted infections if you share them with a partner. There's no risk if you use them alone.
The health risks from using sex toys can be reduced if you:
Find out more about sex toys.
The following behaviours and activities are classed as high risk.
Having unprotected anal sex, whether you're a man or a woman, is a high risk activity for almost every sexually transmitted infection.
You can reduce the risks of anal sex if you:
Find out more about safer anal sex.
If you've had unprotected anal sex, you should consider getting tested.
A burst condom puts both partners at risk of sexually transmitted infections. Women having sex with men also risk pregnancy if a condom bursts.
Reducing the risk of a condom burst:
Find out more about safer condom usage.
Having sex with lots of partners increases the risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection.
Group sex will always be risky.
You can reduce the risks if everyone:
Find out more about safer group sex.
Having unprotected vaginal sex carries a high risk for both partners for most sexually transmitted infections.
Reducing the risks from vaginal sex:
Find out more about safer vaginal sex.