Living in an increasingly secular society, the moral shackles of having sex outside of marriage are ever reducing. People around the world are engaging in sex, and are tending to start at younger ages than in previous generations. Whilst sex education is most definitely improving at school, by the early twenties, many people seem to have disregarded the importance of practicing safe sex. Using a condom, or another form of protective device, serves a number of purposes which will be discussed below:
Minimises Risk Of Disease
Practicing safe sex performs the function of reducing the risk of catching or transmitting a sexually transmitted infection. These diseases can range significantly in terms of severity and the most commonly diagnoses STI’s are:
- Chlamydia – The most common infection in the UK. Can be contracted through unprotected sex and in some people can be symptomless. Women occasionally suffer from a burning sensation when urinating and may experience pain in the lower abdomen after sexual intercourse. Can be detected by a urine test and it is important to have it treated with antibiotics, otherwise long term issues such as infertility may arise.
- Gonorrhoea – This is a bacterial based sexually transmitted infection that can be contracted through sexual intercourse. Women normally feel a burning sensation and may experience some vaginal discharge. Similarly, men may feel a burning sensation when urinating and there is often a yellow/green discharge from the penis. Again, this infection can be treated with antibiotics but can result in infertility if the carrier is not treated
- Genital Herpes – This infection is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). When contracting herpes, the skin may become itchy and sore a few days afterwards. Antiviral medicines can be used to control herpes, however it is incurable. Most of the time however, the disease will remain inactive within the body, but can be triggered by certain things.
Of course, safe sex is important to avoid these non life threatening infections and diseases. However, using a condom and taking other precautions to make sure that intercourse is as safe as possible, is vital to stop spreading or contracting the HIV virus.
It is most commonly transferred through unprotected sex, and is prevalent amongst gay men. Medical advancements have meant that carries can live with HIV for a long period of time, however eventually the disease breaks the immune system down and suffers develop AIDS when their body can no longer cope. HIV can be diagnosed by a blood test.
Apart from protecting against infections and diseases, safe sex is obviously useful to stop unwanted pregnancies. By using contraception, individuals are able to protect themselves from any unexpected situations that they may not be ready for.
It is vital to always practice safe sex, especially if it is with a stranger. There are certain areas in the world such as Africa and Asia where levels of more severe STI’s are higher, and therefore it is strongly advisable to use a condom when having sex.
If you have any sexual health concerns, visit the Broadgate Sexual Health Clinic where our GP’s can discuss in private any worries you may have.