What it means, benefits, risks and how to do it
“FLUID BONDING” It might sound like a scientific term for “spin swapping”, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.
“Fluid bonding is the consensual act of not using barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams during sex and outside relationships,” says Shanae AdamsMA, LPCC, CIGT, who teaches sex education workshops for adults and young people.
When sex partners decide to bond smoothly, it means they don’t use any safer sex barrier during oralvaginal or anal sex. Without these barriers, fluid-bound partners exchange bodily fluids such as vaginal secretions, seminal fluid, saliva, and menstrual blood during intercourse.
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Even if you don’t use the term “bound fluid” to describe your relationship, you may already be engaging in this practice. “Most monogamists [and] married couples are bonded by fluids, even if they don’t use the term, says Stefani Goerlich, an AASECT-certified sex therapist and a board-certified sexology graduate. “Their decision to avoid sexual contact with others makes them bond with each other.”
At this point, you might think “fluid bonding” is just a fancy way of referring to unprotected sex, but the practice involves a lot more than leaving your condoms in the drawer next door. And while the idea of barrier-free sex may seem liberating, fluid bonding comes with risks and challenges.
How exactly does smooth bonding work, and is it the right choice for your relationship? Let’s get into the ins and outs of fluid binding.
What are the benefits of fluid bonding?
Above all, a smooth connection with a partner facilitates sexual relations.
You don’t have to fumble for dental dams Where condoms when things start to heat up, at least not in your fluid relationships.
Some polyamorous and non-monogamous people practice fluid bonds with one or more partners while using safer sexual barriers with other partners.
Their safer sex practices outside of their fluid relationships reduce the risk of transmit STIs between fluid partners. Of course, that means fluid partners actually have to use barriers outside of their fluid relationship, and they have to use those barriers correctly. It takes a lot of dedication and trust. “Fluid links can act as an additional level of engagement in the relationships between parties,” says Adams.
The smooth bond also means partners can use porous sex toys together without barriers (as long as those toys haven’t been used with other sex partners in the past).
Usually, fluid-bound partners have specific, porous sex toys that are only used in their fluid relationships.
“[Fluid bonding] can take the form of barrier-free oral or penetrative sex – such as a condom or dental dam – or even reserving certain porous sex toys – such as jade dildos, leather whips, etc. — to a specific person,” says Goerlich. .
Deciding to bond fluidly with a partner can also foster intimacy.
“Those who engage in fluid bonds may feel more connected to their partner,” Adams says. Indeed, a smooth affair requires honest and transparent communication with your partner. practitioner clear communication can deepen your relationship, and it could also improve your sex life. A study 2019 published in the Journal of Sex Research found that couples who regularly talk about sex have better sex and experience more sexual desire than other couples.
What are the risks associated with fluid bonding?
Fluid bonding carries two major risks: transmission of STIs and pregnancy.
Fluid linkage and STI transmission
If you and your partner haven’t STI screening before the fluid affair or if you are not honest about your sex outside of your fluid relationship, there is a risk of transmission of STIs between fluid partners. “It’s crucial that everyone commits to being honest with and about all partners and to ongoing testing to ensure security is maintained,” Goerlich says.
If you have multiple partners and use barriers outside of your fluid relationship, the risk of STI transmission is still there. “Nothing is entirely foolproof,” says Goerlich. For instance, a 2002 study found that regular condom use during heterosexual intercourse reduced the risk of contracting HIV by only about 80%, and in a 2005 study Among people who had been exposed to chlamydia, 13.3% of regular condom users still contracted the infection. These studies indicate that although barriers significantly reduce the risk of contracting STIs, they do not offer total protection. This means that you can potentially contract an STI while using barriers outside of a fluid relationship and pass that STI on to a fluent partner.
Moreover, even when condoms or dental dams are perfectly used, they do not completely cover the skin. Unless you’re wearing a full latex catsuit, you’re going to have skin-to-skin contact with sexual partners. Even if you are not in contact with a partner’s sexual fluids, you can still contract and transmit certain STIs, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) and syphilis– by skin-to-skin contact, as well as other diseases that are spread by skin-to-skin contact, such as monkeypox.
The good news is that most STIs are easily treated, and thanks to modern medicine, many people living with chronic STIs are able to manage their symptoms and viral load. Still, getting treatment for an STI isn’t fun, and living with an STI for the rest of your life — and potentially passing it on to someone else — is something most people want to avoid. “I suggest ongoing STI screening every three to six months, unless you also choose to be monogamous,” Goerlich says.
Fluid Bonding and Pregnancy
If you and your fluid-bound partner are having the kind of sex that can lead to pregnancy and you don’t want to be parents, then you need to discuss birth control options. This might require you to use condoms during P-in-V sex while giving up barriers during anal and oral sex. If you are having P-in-V sex outside of your fluid relationship, you will also need to discuss birth control options with those sex partners. According Planned parenthood, if you use condoms perfectly every time you have sex, they are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. Most people does not use condoms perfectly, so more specifically, condoms are only about 85% effective in preventing pregnancy. Make sure you understand how to use a condom correctly. Even if one partner takes birth control pills or wears an IUD, doubling up on protection is the best way to avoid accidental pregnancy when P-in-V sex is on the menu.
What questions should I ask a partner before deciding on a smooth bond?
If you have multiple sex partners and want to bond smoothly with one or more of those partners, take some time to think about it and communicate.
“Partners should ask questions about sexual practices, such as how many partners they have sex with, how many of them are using and not using protection, what is their plan for mitigate the risk of STI transmission and how often they will engage in testing,” Adams says.
Goerlich suggests asking your partner these questions: “Have you been tested for STIs in the past 90 days? Do you have any non-sexual blood-borne infections? Are you sleeping [or] play with other people? What are your fluid practices with them? Do you use dental dams during oral sex? Do you engage in games that might break your skin? Do you view the smooth bond as a practical decision, or does the smooth bond represent a deepening of our relationship? »
If you don’t trust your partner or their safer sex practices, a smooth affair with that partner probably isn’t the best idea. If, however, you trust your partner’s words and judgment, you feel good about your ability to set and maintain boundaries together, and you’re willing to accept the risks inherent in the smooth bonding, then go for it. and swap saliva (and everything else).
Ro White is a Chicago-based writer, sex educator, and Autostraddle’s Sex & Dating editor.
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