May/June 2001
TES Safe Sex Guide

"The following three definitions are provided here as a service and are the property of The Eulenspiegel Society."

TES is a not-for-profit organization which promotes sexual liberation for all adults. Especially for people who enjoy consensual SM. Following are basic terminology definitions that TES has adopted. These are the standards that we ALL should hold and adhere to.

SAFE: All parties have taken the necessary precautions to prevent psychological and physical damage to themselves, including the transmission of any disease.

SANE: All parties are in possession of their mental faculties and are aware of the risks involved in the intended play.

CONSENSUAL: All parties understand the potential risk involved and have consented to these activities. This consent can be withdrawn or modified at any time.

NOTICE: This document was the work of many dedicated volunteers. They deserve to be properly recognized and they are all listed at the bottom of this document.

Safer SM

If sexually explicit information about sado-masochism might offend you, this document is not for you.

HIV Transmission

HIV (the virus that can lead to AIDS) can be avoided. HIV is passed from one person to another when infected

  • blood or
  • semen or
  • vaginal secretions

goes from one person's body into another, and then makes its way into your bloodstream.

You don't have to worry about:

  • saliva
  • perspiration
  • urine or feces on the outside of the body

Always remember to use common sense. Ensure first-aid items are readily to hand. By remembering these basics, you can make any kind of sex safer.

SM Risk Reduction

Most SM (BDSM) activities have always been low-risk for getting HIV (Human Immune-deficiency Virus). Responsible SM has always been about practicing safety.

Getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), like HIV, can be prevented. But there are other possible dangers with SM. For more information on how to avoid these, read material like the On The Safe Edge: A Manual for SM Play by Trevor Jacques, et al; Lesbian SM Safety Manual by Pat Califia; SM101 by Jay Wiseman; or Screw The Roses, Send Me The Thorns by Molly Devon and Philip Miller. (Check here to research/order these books: Lifestyle Books)

Generalized information on HIV and STD's is available from most Community Health Centers, doctors' offices/clinics, hospices, or community AIDS organizations.

SM Etiquette

Use the etiquette of SM. It's really just a matter of expecting the person(s) with whom you're playing. You should agree upon a safety word and what you want to do in a scene before you start the scene. A safety word (or motion) is used by any partner to stop the scene immediately, no questions asked. There is no shame in using the safety word. It's there for both of you. You should respect it and your partner's limits and feelings at all times.

Always consider your partner(s). Discuss interests, pleasures, perceived needs, etc.. If you are unsure of a certain sexual or SM activity, then hold off until you're familiar with the safety aspects of it. Find out as much as possible beforehand, so you can you make a decision about how and/or when to proceed.

If you are HIV+, think about how infection with STD's-or re-infection with HIV-could affect your immune system. Bow out when necessary. For example, don't deep throat a sore throat. By being interested in your health and practicing safer sex, you are doing a lot to help stop the transmission of HIV and other STD's.

Always ask before using someone else's toy. They may not want you to use it, or it may be broken. By practicing the guidelines mentioned in this pamphlet, you will be making your contribution to the community of safer SM players.


Lubricants (lube) can be lots of fun, whether used for play or insertion. Flavored brands can be used externally or for oral sex.

If you're going to insert something into someone, you should only use a water-based unscented brand-like K-Y, Lubafax, Muco, Safer Sex Lube, Astroglide, or Wet. Never use oil-based lubes (like Crisco or Vaseline); they weaken latex condoms and gloves, making them more likely to break.

Also, during a scene, you shouldn't take lube from a large container. Either buy small portions and throw the packets away afterwards or put enough lube for this play time into something disposable (like a paper cup or plate). Some brands come in pump jars. This makes sure that nobody's "dirty" hand, penis, or whatever can get into your personal supply of lube.

Your Rectum

The rectum is more delicate than most parts of your body and you should take care of it. Sticking things up your rectum- whether it's a finger, cock, dildo, fist, or anything else-can tear the lining of the rectum. Even extremely tiny tears can open up the body and be places where HIV can get in.

Intercourse without protection is a high-risk activity, since a penis ejaculates semen. A penis also has a pee hole in the end, which can let viruses in. Always use a latex condom, and use it properly. To put on a condom: first make sure the penis is erect. If it's uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin before putting on the condom. Squeeze the air out of the tip. If the condom is round-ended and doesn't have a tip, squeeze the air out and leave 1cm free at the tip of the penis.

Lubricate the outside of the condom really well with a water-based lube (like K-Y, Muco, Wet, Safer Sex Lube, or Astroglide). Never use oil-based lube (like Crisco or Vaseline); it can damage condoms. Pull out soon after you cum, grabbing the base of the penis to make sure the condom doesn't slip off. To be extra careful, you can start fucking with a condom, and then pull out before you cum-you can then cum on the chest, thighs, hands, or whatever.

If you finger a rectum, be careful not to finger it if you have a cut or sore on your finger, or if you have sharp/long nails. You could also use a latex glove when fingering. As for dildos, make sure they've been cleaned before they go up your rectum (see the section on cleaning toys).

Douching & Enemas

If fisting, intercourse, or dildos are part of your sexual activity, some people feel it is very important to have a clean rectum or vagina. But douching, or using enemas before getting fucked, could leave you more open to infection. They can wash away the surface mucous that's there to protect you.

Never share your douche bag. Clean it each time you use it. Also, don't share the nozzles of metal shower douches. Get a separate nozzle for each friend, label it, and clean it between uses (see the section on cleaning toys). Douching or enemas should not be used after sex, because they don't necessarily wash things away-they can also push infected semen, blood or feces further into the body. Infections and bacteria douched up into a woman's uterus and fallopian tubes can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)-which could lead to infertility, or worse.

Your Vagina

Successful play with your vagina depends on paying attention to detail, because a great variation of sensation occurs over very small areas.

It's easy to bruise, cut, or tear your vagina, so you should take care to protect it whenever anything goes into it. The inner parts of the vagina are mucous membranes, so a good rule is to make sure that your play is less aggressive here. Anything inserted into the vagina should be properly washed and have no sharp edges.

Your vagina can be damaged in other ways, too-you can: bruise or scrape the cervix, which is located about 10cm inside the vagina (the exact position varies from woman to woman); tear the skin between the vagina and the rectum; bruise the tissue between the pubic bones; or cut and scrape around the pee-hole. All of these can open up your body to HIV-or other STD's-making vaginal intercourse without a condom a high risk activity.

A good rule is that too much lubricant is not enough. If you don't use enough, you may cause tears and rips, or a mechanically induced vaginitis.

Vaginal play depends on moving slowly to generate fairly symmetrical sensations, and remembering that the border between pleasure and pain here is razor thin. So get to know the size and shape of your partner's vagina, and remember that it changes shape depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle and how excited she gets.


When you were growing up, your mother probably told you to share your toys. Well, for sex toys, forget it! Anything that goes into a person's rectum and/or vagina could transmit HIV or other STD's, if it's shared. Any toy that draws blood can also be a risk.

If you're a bottom, the best idea would be to have your own toys and get your top to use them on you. If you're a top, ask your bottom what toys he or she owns. Or, if having sex with various bottoms, you should assign and mark toys only for them.

For example, if you spank someone with a sturdy wire brush, you're going to draw blood. So, tape the bottom's name onto the back of the brush-maybe even tape the brush to the bottom's leg-but don't use it on anyone else. The same applies to dildos, butt plugs, etc.

Cleaning Toys

You'll need these things to clean your toys:

  • soap and hot water
  • one part household bleach to nine parts water
  • 10% hydrogen peroxide solution

What if you're using a toy on someone and you don't mean to draw blood-but you do? You don't have to throw away your toy. Wash it with soap and hot water, let it soak for 20 minutes in the bleach solution, rinse it in hot, clean water, and then let it dry thoroughly (preferably overnight) before using it again. The same goes for douche nozzles.

Leather toys are a bit different: To clean a leather toy (like a whip, flogger, or leather dildo), first wash the tips or ends with a strong foaming cleaner using a hard bristle brush to get at nooks & crannies in the leather; then spray the tips or ends well with hydrogen peroxide, wipe away the excess with clean towels, & let them air dry for at least a few hours (preferably overnight) before using them. Cleaning dries out the leather very quickly, so your toy should be treated with an acceptable leather conditioner immediately after it has dried, or it will become brittle and crack.

It's a lot easier to clean a dildo after playing if you put a condom on it before you use it. If you are a top, you can probably think of lots of ways to make your bottom put the condom on the dildo.

It may sound complicated, but it isn't really; just make sure any toy with cum, blood, or feces on it, or anything that's been in someone's rectum or vagina is properly cleaned. Make sure you get any bleach or soap off the toy by flushing it with clean water. Remember, unclean shared toys can transmit STD's-which can affect your whole immune system.

Oral Sex

Oral sex is considered a low risk activity for getting HIV. It isn't that easy for HIV to get into the bloodstream through the mouth. There have been some cases of people who were infected with HIV by taking semen in the mouth, however the numbers have been very small. Many of these people had problems in the mouth - like cuts, sores, or recent dental work. No-one has ever caught HIV by having oral sex performed on them.

If you have cuts or sores in your mouth, this could make unprotected oral sex riskier. If this is the case, play it safe and wait until everything is healed, or use an unlubricated or flavored latex condom on your partner. Condoms will also help protect you from other STD's that can be transmitted through oral sex.

It's also a good idea not to brush or floss your teeth for several hours before performing oral sex, since this can create small cuts and abrasions on your gums.

Oral sex on a woman (licking, eating out, going down on your partner's vagina) is a low risk activity for getting HIV - but you can get other STD's through unprotected sex on a woman. To reduce the risk, you can choose to use a latex barrier (such as an unlubricated condom cut lengthwise) between your mouth and your partner's vagina.


Rimming-licking someone's rectal opening -is low risk for becoming infected with HIV, but high risk for the transmission of other STD's (like herpes, anal warts, and hepatitis A), as well as parasites. If you want to rim, use a condom cut lengthwise to form a sheet of latex, or use a latex barrier like a dental dam (more difficult to find). Never brush your teeth or tongue just before your sexual play, wait at least 3 to 4 hours.

Rimming can be very enjoyable for your partner but always take precautions to ensure your own safety-avoid leaving yourself open to STD's.

Watersports, etc.

Both urine and feces are fine on the outside of the body. Urine in your mouth is a low-risk activity for getting HIV, but with an infected bladder there is a high risk of catching other STD's.

If you take feces in your mouth, there is also the possibility of catching other STD's or parasites. Never brush your teeth or tongue just before playing, wait at least 3 to 4 hours, and never play when you have cold sores, cankers, or cuts in your mouth.

If there are any cuts on the outside of the skin, don't urinate or defecate near the cut(s). Remember that a pimple (zit) is also a cut.


Fists are big things. They can create more serious tears in the rectum or vagina than most sexual activities. If you get fisted, you're going to have to treat your rectum and / or vagina very, very carefully.

Immediately after you've been fisted, never let anything else (a penis, dirty dildo, or a finger with semen, feces, or blood on it) into your rectum or vagina that might be carrying HIV or other STD's. Always hold true to this.

If you are going to fist, wear latex gloves. They protect both the top and the bottom. Surgical gloves are the best. They usually go part of the way up the arm and are good for most fistings. If you are going to be fisting deeply, use a calving glove. You can buy them at veterinarian supply stores. Calving gloves can bunch up, though, and the wrinkles can cut the lining of the rectum or vagina. To avoid this, cut the finger and thumb sections off the calving glove to leave the glove covering the palm of your hand, including the base of your thumb. Then put a surgical glove over the calving glove.

Don't fist if your fingernails are long. Cut them and smooth them down with an emery board, since they can tear the fisting glove or the bottom's rectum or vagina. If you have an open wound or hangnails on your hand(s), don't fist with that hand, even with the precaution of gloves. Be sure the glove stays well lubed while you're using it (see the section on lubricants). When pulling out (as with condoms), make sure to grab the open end of the glove so that it doesn't slip off.

Piercing, Shaving, etc.

If you want to have a permanent piercing, make sure the rings or bars are new and sterile. You might be able to find a doctor or nurse to do the piercing in a sterile way. If you can't, have it done by or learn from a professional piercer. Make sure the bars or rings are properly soaked in bleach and then rinsed in water before they're inserted. Make sure only new sterile needles are used and then only on one person. If a temporary piercing is part of a scene, make sure you use sterile, disposable needles. Use them once-only once-on one person. Then dispose of them safely. (See the section on cleaning needles, and disposing of needles under Drugs and Alcohol).

As for branding, heat-branding is safe because of the high temperatures involved (heat kills HIV). Knife-branding should only be done with a knife that's been soaked in bleach for twenty minutes and then rinsed with water.

Better yet, you can use a sterile scalpel with a disposable blade (scalpels can be bought at medical supply stores). Use it once, put it in a strong narrow-necked plastic container, put the lid back on, and throw it in the garbage.

For piercing, branding, or shaving, any drops of blood should be wiped away with sterile cotton balls. Soak the cotton ball in rubbing alcohol. You can also buy pre-soaked separately wrapped cotton balls called "alcohol preps" or "alcohol rub." After use, put them in a plastic bag, tie up the bag, and put it in the garbage.

When starting a piercing, branding, or shaving scene, the area of the skin should first be wiped with rubbing alcohol, "alcohol preps," "Hibitane(R)," or "staphene(R)" to remove any fine dirt trapped by the skin's oil.


If there's no break in the skin during whipping or flogging, then there's no problem at all. Depending on the material that the whip, quirt, or cat-o'-nine-tails is made of and the way it is used, it can draw blood if the skin is broken.

During a flogging or whipping scene, wipe up the blood the same way you would for piercing or branding, and always clean your flogger/whips (see the section on cleaning toys).

When in a more public forum, you should avoid breaking the skin, as blood can be flicked from the flogger/whip during the return of the stroke.


Electrical equipment (like the "Relax-A-Cisor" machine or "Violet Wand") probably won't break skin, so there's not much risk of getting HIV from it. If it does break skin, wipe up any blood with disposable, sterile cotton balls soaked in hydrogen peroxide, and cover the broken skin with a Band-Aid.(R) Since flexible, sticky electrical contacts pick up dirt from the skin, use them on one person only. If you get bodily fluids on them, throw them away and get new ones. There is no way to clean them.

Only use electric charges below the belly button-you don't want the electric charge to affect the heart or the brain's own electric system.

Drugs & Alcohol

If you're into SM (BDSM), you have to keep your wits about you. Mind-altering drugs like tranquilizers, uppers, or hallucinogens are not recommended. If you use them, you'll be more likely to make mistakes. Alcohol can have the same effect. Drugs or alcohol leads to unsafe activities.

As for "poppers," they make your blood vessels bigger. This may increase your risk of infection with HIV. Poppers are also hard on your heart and immune system.

If you use injection drugs, a very easy way to pass on HIV is by sharing your needles, syringes, or cookers. Use your own works and never share them unless they are properly cleaned in bleach and water.

To clean your needle and syringe properly:

    1) Fill the syringe completely with sterile water, shake it, and squirt it out.
    2) Fill the syringe with full-strength bleach and squirt a little out. Leave the rest in for 30 seconds, then squirt it out.
    3) Repeat step 2.
    4) Fill the syringe with sterile water, shake it, and squirt it out.
    5) Repeat step 4 twice more.

Bleach and sterile water can be obtained from your local needle exchange.

To dispose of your needle and syringe properly:

Once a needle or scalpel is used, make sure the cap is put back on gently and the whole thing is placed in a strong, narrow-necked plastic container (with its lid on) before disposal, so no-one handling your garbage gets pricked. You can also use a "sharps" container (see your local needle exchange).

About This Document

We developed this document with the help of experts in the field of education, as well as people experienced in safe, sane, and consensual BDSM. For maximum effect, we have used frank language specifically aimed at the target audience; not to shock but to speak to them in their own words.

Educational research indicates that this direct, non-judgmental presentation, using slang equivalents of the correct terms, ensures effective use of pamphlets like this. In the printed version of this document, we have also used photographs and design to help maintain the reader's interest throughout the text.

For copies of the illustrated, four-color version of this document, please contact the AIDS Committee of Toronto (address below) or send an e-mail message to

The development and printing of this pamphlet was funded exclusively by the SM community within Metro Toronto.

If you have found this document useful, please consider making a donation to the Safer SM Education project (mention the project by name when you send your donation to the AIDS Committee of Toronto). This helps us keep the education going.

Thank you to these supporters:

Alternate Sources,
The Barracks,
Northbound Leather,
The National Leather Association-Toronto, Spearhead Toronto,
Dan Bowers,
Michael Hamilton,
Trevor Jacques,
Dr. Dale McCarthy,
Rachael Melzack,
Dennis O'Connor,
David Stein,

and the many generous donations made at the AIDS Committee SM101 seminars.

Special thanks to John Maxwell at A.C.T.

The AIDS Committee of Toronto Safer SM Education
Project 399 Church Street,
4th. floor, Toronto, Ontario M5B 2J6

Office: 416-340-2437 Hotline: 416-340-8844
TTY/TDD: 416-340-8122 Facsimile: 416-340-8224


Text ŠThe AIDS Committee of Toronto, August & October, 1996