Practising Safe Sex
Written by Emma Burbidge Posted in Sex and Relationships
Sex is fun and in a relationship of two loving adults, can increase that love. However, like most fun things it is not without its risks, and should be treated with maturity. It is important to look after the health of yourself and your sexual partner by using contraception, to avoid pregnancy and the risk of sexually transmitted disease.
Mistakes can happen and you do not know what the consequences might be when you are not thinking rationally or are too guided by your desires rather than your head. This is just a part of growing up, and life would not be possible without making a few mistakes along the way.
Don’t make the mistake of confusing lust with love. Love is an emotional feeling, lust is a sexual one. If you are not both clear of each other’s feelings, then you could end up getting hurt.
It could be that you wake up one morning after a heavy night of partying, in bed with someone whose name you can’t remember, not sure where you are or how you got there, regretting those tequila shots and wondering whether you used a condom!
It could be that you are in a relationship and somehow you find yourself sleeping with someone else because you are attracted to them or having problems with your own relationship.
It could be that you sleep with someone you like because you think it will lead to something more and in the end the other person does not feel the same way.
It could be that you just fancied someone you met at a party and one thing led to another.
Whatever the situation, sex may be fun on the night but then in the morning can often lead to an empty feeling, a feeling of shame, a feeling of sadness, a feeling of guilt.
What can add to these feelings is the risk of Sexually Transmitted Disease or a baby you don’t want or know how to care for.
Girls who sleep around open them up to judgement from others, while the pressure to have sex can be enormous. It may feel like you are being pushed and pulled in different directions, not knowing really which way to turn.
If thinking about having sex for the first time, it is important that you have respect for each other and that you discuss contraception, and only do what you both feel comfortable with. It should be something you both want and not something that is forced on you by peer pressure or coercion.
How can you protect yourself?
There are a lot of different types of contraception available:
- Condoms: This is the most common form of contraception as it protects against pregnancy and STIs. There is a small risk of them breaking. They are available from your doctor or nurse, family planning clinic, pharmacies and even supermarkets
- Contraceptive Pill: The doctor can prescribe you with pills containing a hormone which protects against unwanted pregnancy. The girl takes a pill every day for the 3 weeks in a month when she is not on her period. You should use this with condoms to avoid STIs or if you are liable to forget when to take it. This will provide you with extra protection
- Implant: A small rod the size of a matchstick is placed under the arm releasing a hormone which prevents pregnancy. It can only be used by women and works for up to 3 years
- Injection: Hormones can be injected into a muscle in your body to prevent pregnancy. This needs to be done by a doctor or nurse every 8-12 weeks
- Emergency Contraception: If you have sex without a condom or other form of contraception then you can still prevent pregnancy so long as you deal with it in time. The emergency contraception pill is called Lavanelle and can be bought from a pharmacy or given by a doctor, nurse, sexual health clinic or even some youth centres. This does not protect against STIs though, so you should also try and get a full sexual health exam to rule out any doubt if you have had unprotected sex.
If you feel ready for sex then you can discuss your options with your GP or nurse in confidence. However, openness with your parents can be a good thing, afterall they have been through it themselves!
If you need further advice with this then you can discuss this with your TCHC adviser or ChildLine on 0800 1111.