Often, safe sex messages are geared toward younger people — but sexually active people of all ages should be aware. Safe sex is about taking precautions: Sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex could lead to an unintended pregnancy; and sexual contact of any sort could spread sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Safe sex is absolutely essential to avoiding these unwanted consequences — and it must happen before you’re anywhere near ready to have sex.

  • Preventing the natural outcome: Knowing about condoms and birth control pills won’t help you if you’re in the heat of passion with someone else, especially if you’re both partially or fully undressed. Contraception isn’t difficult but it takes some planning. The most reliable methods of preventing pregnancy require a visit to a doctor or clinic. Others necessitate at least a trip to the drugstore.

    If you absolutely, positively don’t want to make a baby, then don’t have sexual intercourse — be abstinent.

  • Preventing disease: Even if you guard against pregnancy, you could catch a sexually transmitted disease. In fact, some contraceptive methods don’t offer any protection against STDs. The condom is really the only method of birth control that also offers protection against disease, but it’s not the most effective method of birth control. So you may have to use two types of contraceptive to maximize both effects.

All of this can be a bit cumbersome, which is why so many people just don’t bother to use any form of protection, at least from time to time. That’s one of the reasons why there are so many unintended pregnancies and why STDs are so rampant. So if you’re going to engage in sexual intercourse, please make the effort to learn how to prevent pregnancies and STDs.

Having intercourse has two potential outcomes: causing pleasure and making babies. You will have moments in your life when you’ll want to combine those two, but most of the time you’re going to want one without the other. That’s where contraception comes in. And the less worried you are about causing an unintended pregnancy or risking a disease, the more you’ll enjoy sex — sort of a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. This also works the other way, so if you opt to have sex without using contraception, and you don’t want to get pregnant or contract an STD, you’ll enjoy sex a lot less.

About This Article

This article can be found in the category: