Unprotected sex has become a bit of a taboo subject and those practising it can at times be made to feel irresponsible and juvenile. But unprotected sex doesn’t need to mean dicing with pregnancy and is in fact defined as the act of having sex without a condom, thus leaving the participants ‘unprotected’ from sexually transmitted diseases rather than at risk from a baby. Now given what I’ve just said, you may already be wondering if the words ‘safe’ and ‘unprotected’ can even be used in the same sentence, and I’m here to argue that they can, so long as a few simple ground rules are followed first.
First and foremost, unprotected sex isn’t for everyone and its important that all parties communicate with one another and are comfortable with the act before any sex takes place. As a general rule, it’s often a lot easier to communicate openly and clearly with someone you know well and so unprotected sex is often best left to consenting parties who are in a long-standing relationship or who know each other well enough to have this conversation. Sex shouldn’t be a taboo subject but sadly for many people it still is. The censorship and fear around topics such as unprotected sex can stop people from speaking up and earning about it, leaving them open to problems later down the line. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up about sex, it’s a perfectly natural part of life and should be enjoyed safely.
- Sexually transmitted diseases
When it comes to unprotected sex, both parties are at risk from sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea and Herpes. To keep yourself safe from STI’s whilst having unprotected sex it’s important that all parties are tested to stop unknown transmittance – this is another reason why unprotected sex is often best left to those in more committed or longer-standing relationships and who are only sleeping with other tested and safe sexual partners. If you are having unprotected sex with someone you have just met or who has not been tested then it’s important to understand the risks you take. Most STI’s can be treated with medication, but some such as herpes and HIV can never be cured. Antiviral medication can treat genital herpes and HIV medication can help to keep the disease at bay, but as blood-borne diseases, they will never be cured and so it’s vital that you are aware of this risk if you are having sex with a partner who you has not been tested. It’s also important to mention here that a tested partner may still be a risk if they have been playing away or having unprotected with another individual who has not been tested themselves, so be sure that your partner is also aware of the risks and try to ensure that you are in a trustworthy relationship.
We’ve already outlined than unprotected sex without a condom is, in fact, a term used to describe an individual who is at risk from sexually transmitted diseases but that doesn’t mean that it can’t also leave you open to pregnancy if you don’t have other contraceptive measures in place. The pill, the coil, the implant, hormonal injections, the patch and vaginal rings are all contraceptive methods that can allow you to have unprotected sex whilst preventing you from getting pregnant, though it’s important to recognise that even the most efficient contraceptive methods still have marginal failure rates. But don’t let failure rates put you off, the male condom, although considered one of the most effective forms of contraception, has a failure rate of 13% making the pill at 7%, the implant at 0.01%, the injection at 4% and both the ring and the patch at 7% all more reliable contraceptive methods when compared by this standard. Of course, the belt and braces method of both a condom and another form of contraception is the best form of contraceptive after abstinence, but this is not a realistic contraceptive option for most people and having unprotected sex needn’t be unusually risky so long as another contraceptive method is in place.
Unprotected sex can be perfectly safe when conducted sensibly and with consideration of the possible implications. Clear, open and honest communication with your partner, a reliable source of contraception and a clear STI test for all parties make unprotected sex just as safe as sex with a stranger using a condom. Just remember to have yourself and your sexual partners tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases and to be aware of the potential risks if someone you are sleeping with has not been as careful as you are.