Dear Val

By: Valentina Henriquez

Contributing Writer

22 year old Iesha Galloway asked,

“How effective is a safe-word when having sex?”

Dear Ieasha,

A safe-word can be used during sexual intercourse, especially when engaging in bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism, also known as BDSM.

The purpose of a safe-word is to let your partner(s) know you do not want to participate anymore.

Safe words are uncommonly used words during sex. For example, the word “Mississippi.” Some use the word “stop,” but at times your partner can interpret it as you spicing things up. So, before you have sex with your partner(s) you should agree on a safe-word.

According to Harry Henderson, the HIV/AIDS tester at the John Jay Women’s Health Center, a safe-word is 60% effective and 40% ignored.

When dealing with beginner safe-word users, it’s common that the safe-word gets ignored because of the desire to release. Like any skill, using a safe-word with your partner requires practice.

So is it effective? It can be, but just remember, not always.

Before having sexual intercourse, make sure you and your partner(s) are aware of what your safe word is.

Valentina Henriquez

Feel free to send your questions to

(You have the option to ask your questions anonymously.)