Without any protection methods, having many kinds of sex carries the risk of getting an STI. By sharing fluids and through skin-to-skin contact, partners can transmit chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and more. No STI prevention method is 100% effective other than total abstinence, so there are risks with protected sex too—they just significantly increase when you fluid bond.

Having all partners involved get tested regularly can help make sure you’re practicing fluid bonding safely. If any partners aren’t STI-free, Skyler says it’s still possible to fluid bond safely. “There doesn’t have to be a stigma around that, and it’s not the end of the world—what you want to do is track it.”

Take a situation where you have or your partner has HSV, for example: “The person with herpes will track for an outbreak. During those outbreaks, go back to using a barrier, then fluid-bond the majority of the time,” Skyler says.