Sex is one of the most amazing and exciting activities that people can enjoy. From the physical pleasures of gratification and release, to the spiritual pleasure of intimacy with another human being, sex is a powerful and life-affirming act. However, despite all this, it can also come with quite a hefty price, particularly if you engage in unprotected sex.
You might think that in this day and age everyone knows better than to have sex without protection, yet the truth is that many people still neglect to safeguard their health. According to a recent study, only 54 percent of college students regularly use condoms during intercourse. No wonder one in four students has a sexually transmitted infection (STI)!
Scary statistics such as these might have you rethinking sexual activity altogether, and indeed, abstinence is the only way to absolutely protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy and STIs. However, for most people, sexual activity is not something they are willing to sacrifice. That is why safer sex precautions are so crucial. Here is what you need to know:
Always use condoms. Make up your mind that condoms are a must. Period. It doesn’t matter if the guy says he was just tested or if the girl claims she takes birth control on a regular basis. Promises (or birth-control pills) don’t protect against STIs, condoms do. Keep them with you at all times (most health clinics offer them for free to students) and store them in a cool, dry place. (Don’t use old condoms, and don’t keep them in warm places, such as the glove compartment, because this can cause the material to break down.) Additionally, don’t use oil-based lubricants or household items like Vaseline when using condoms, as this can also cause the latex to disintegrate. And, remember, live by the motto: No glove, no love!
Beware of alcohol and sex. Alcohol and sex often go hand-in-hand. A couple of drinks can make you less inhibited and more relaxed, meaning that you are more in the mood and more confident. However, this can also backfire. According to a recent study, 45 percent of college freshmen who engage in binge drinking neglect to use protection, even if they regularly use contraception while sober. A couple of drinks seem to make students throw caution to the wind, and this can have potentially disastrous results. And, even if you do use protection, you might use it incorrectly due to all those drinks you downed at the bar! So be careful not to get too tipsy if you plan on hooking up later. Besides, too many drinks detract from sexual experience anyway, so forget all that booze.
Don’t assume. Many people wrongly think that you can look at others and tell if they have an STI. However, the cute class president can have an STI, even if he or she also has a 4.0 and a killer smile. Being exclusive with one partner also does not mean you will be safe from STIs. Mistakes happen — especially on a college campus with tons of young, attractive (and tipsy) people running around. No matter what, you must always rely on safer sex practices such as condoms and dental dams to protect your health.
Be smart — after all, isn’t that what college is all about?