Staying Safer While Polyamorous

Is it possible to stay safer while in a polyamorous relationship? Why, yes. Yes it is.


After spending time with a few polyamorous friends over the weekend as well as encountering an alarming amount of safer sex questions on the subreddit /r/polyamory, I feel as though polyamory is a topic that is rarely discussed or covered when it comes to unwanted pregnancies and STDs. For those who are unfamiliar with polyamory, this is a type of romantic relationship that involves consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy with people outside of the primary relationship.

Unlike swinging, poly people don’t just have sex for recreation- it’s about finding intimacy and connections with people outside of the main relationship, with the permission of the primary partner, through means such as dating or an even deeper connection.This sounds lovely in theory, but unfortunately, polyamory puts all of those involved at a higher risk, simply because there are more people taking part in possibly precarious sexual activities than there are in a completely monogamous relationship.

In fact, the CDC recommends that the best way to avoid catching or spreading STDs is to either be abstinent or to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B and HPV and to be monogamous. So what measures need to be taken in order to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including you and your primary partner?

How to be Poly Without Folly


Just like a monogamous relationship, poly people need to use protective barriers during any act that could result in fluid transfer or skin-to-skin contact. The downside to being poly is unlike a one-on-one partnership , it may be harder to trust others when it comes to their STD history or their other birth control methods, such as taking the pill. Oftentimes, these topics aren’t even broached beforehand, because they can very easily be taken as an insult by some people.

Let’s get one thing straight- questions about personal safety are not intended to be an insult or a personal attack. Having a STD does not make you a bad person. However, withholding information about having a STD does seem immoral and can even be illegal in the case of individuals who are HIV positive. So, if you have herpes or HPV or any other STD, it is best to disclose this information and let others decide if it is still the right thing for them to do, or not.



In the case of oral, PIV or anal sex, or sharing adult toys, condoms are absolutely essential. Keep five or more handy, as different sizes of men and latex allergies are more likely to occur in a poly relationship, due to there being more people. A great alternative is the FC2, which is non-latex and can be used for vaginal or anal sex. For a better grasp of exactly how many sizes of condoms there are, be sure to check out our recently updated Condom Size Chart. To be safer and better prepared, here is the poly condom checklist:

  1. Flavored condom for oral sex: Trustex Grape Flavored
  2. Non-latex condom for latex sensitive people: LifeStyles SKYN
  3. Snugger fit condom: Kimono MicroThin Ultra Lube
  4. Medium fit condom: LifeStyles Black Label
  5. Larger fit condom: Trojan Magnum XL



Equally as important as fit, there is the issue of adequate lube. To be safer an additional lubricant is always the way to go, because they reduce the amount of friction. This friction can cause condoms to break. I recommend bringing single use lube on your next rendezvous, because applying and transporting a sticky bottle can be less safe than a throw away option like individual use lubes. Some people may have lube sensitivities to paraben or glycerin, so bring four or more foil packs with you. To be safer and better prepared, here is the poly lube checklist:

  1. Flavored lube for oral sex: Trustex Assorted Flavors Lubricant Foil Packs
  2. Silicone-based lube: Single Use Pjur BodyGlide
  3. Water-Based lube: Wet Originals 3ml Individual Use Foil Packs
  4. Paraben and glycerin-free lube: Pjur BodyGlide Woman

Dental Dams


For cunnilingus and/or anilingus- dental dams must be used in order to stay safer. Lixx dental dams come in assorted flavors and are a great way to avoid catching or spreading STDs through oral sex.

Fly on the Wall

When it comes to staying safer in a poly relationship, the next best thing to abstinence is being in close proximity of sexual activity without actively participating (touching of any kind). Often referred to as voyeurs, anyone who just likes to watch makes for an extremely captive audience for all of those fun-loving exhibitionists out there.


And yes, being a real life spectator is way more exciting than watching an adult film or viewing a scene through a web cam– because you can still interact with the active participants verbally. You can also control your position in the space, the music, the lighting, and you can get the scent of the participants or walk away and return to a whole new scene if you so desire. Plus, as long as there is no physical contact with the involved parties, this is a perfectly safe way to enjoy the show, all while staying risk-free.

About Condom Depot

The Condom Depot Learning Center provides free safer sex ed and has recently been resourced by Men's Health, Go Ask Alice, Her Campus, LifeHacker, Scarleteen, Bustle, Madame Noire, Jezebel, Vice, Stallion Style, aPlus, Sex Talk Tuesday and Adult Sex Ed Month.

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