Wrap it up – and then some!
“As a relationship advisor, I hear from so very many men and women who are trying to make relationships work because they got pregnant on the first date,” said relationship expert April Masini of AskApril.com. “People are having unprotected sex often – and these aren’t just kids, they’re adults. They are often adults with more than one child already. In other words, they know their way around a maternity ward and still they have unsafe sex that leads to pregnancy.”
And as we all know, pregnancy is sometimes just the beginning. According to the American Sexual Health Association (ashasexualhealth.org), more than half of all people will have a sexually transmitted disease or infection at some point in their lifetime. Recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Infection show that there are 19.7 million new STI’s every year in the U.S.
Here, Masini offers some tips and advice for safer sex in relationships, ranging from hooking up to one night stands to marriages:
– Don’t rely on the other person to have the birth control. Keep your own stash and keep it fresh, handy and attractively managed in a nice bowl, box or drawer so that you can easily use it as needed. Too many times I hear from people who have unsafe sex because neither one of them had birth control. Judgment aside, just take care of business. Have condoms nearby, and replenish your stash regularly.
– The more you drink before you have sex, the more often you’ll forget or get lazy. It’s fine to have a couple of cocktails, get buzzed or enjoy wine with the evening. But if you’re blackout drunk, then you have a bigger problem than safe sex. When you get a sexually transmitted disease or find yourself or your girlfriend/wife unexpectedly pregnant, it’s a symptom of a substance problem. If you don’t have a problem and you think there’s a chance you’ll be having sex, put a lid on your drinking and limit yourself to one, two or no drinks so you don’t get lazy with safe sex practices.
– Women forget or don’t realize that most men have sex because they can. He’s ready, you’re willing – it doesn’t mean you’re special or that you’re going to leverage this sex into romance. So, if he doesn’t want to use a condom, you have to remember that this is sex, not love, and you can have it, but you should do so safely.
Certified Sex Therapist Emma Schmidt said it’s also important for both parties to take responsibility for birth control methods. This tip becomes especially important when considering a trend she has seen more in recent years: Women who are hoping to become pregnant by poking holes in condoms.
“It’s a new way of a girl trying to force longer ‘intimacy’ with someone but something that men really need to look out for,” Schmidt said, adding that men should carry their own condoms and put them on themselves. “Some women literally carry safety pins with them to mess with ones they carry.”
Schmidt admitted that while the condom discussion can be difficult, it’s one that is important to have with a partner.
“I see a lot of men who will lose erections when they wear the condom too long because they can’t feel the sensation the way they want to or it’s too tight,” she said. “Some of my [female clients] feel like they are more connected when there isn’t a condom involved, so the sex can feel cheap and even hurt when using a condom.”
Schmidt says she advises clients to use foreplay or other methods to become aroused, and then put a condom on. She did point out, however, that this does not mean a couple should have intercourse without a condom, waiting to put one on before orgasm or at all by “pulling out.”
“It is important to always use contraception such as a condom or a dental dam even if the girl is on the pill,” she said. “STDs and STIs are rampant. If there is irritation because the condom feels too tight, then experiment with going up a size.”
She added, “Although hormones and excitement might be roaring which can make a person have tunnel vision to seek that sexual connection or release, it’s better to not have sex if you aren’t able to get protection.”
Think that’s a buzz kill? Maybe. But when taking the right steps means the difference between unplanned pregnancies or STDs, it all seems a little more worth it, right?
Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the upcoming author of a gluten-free healthy lifestyle book, set to be released in January 2014. She is the author of the popular gluten-free blog, TheGSpotRevolution.com and is currently training to become a certified health coach. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.