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Since working at HealthExpress, I’ve probably become a little more knowledgeable about the consequences of unprotected sex than the average person. Still, I find it hard to understand why fully-grown adults carry on taking chances with their sexual health. If there’s even a small chance of an STI or an unwanted pregnancy, is it worth the risk?
The latest figures for abortion in the UK indicate that abortion may be the new contraception. The stats make for uncomfortable reading. The number of terminations has increased by 2.1% over the last 10 years. What’s more, 37% of these women were on at least their second abortion, and one in seven were in a relationship, so presumably having regular sex. And guess which public body is picking up the bill? The NHS of course.
Worryingly, those who do not use contraception also seem to have forgotten the potential STI risk of having unprotected sex. Let’s not forget that responsibility cannot solely be on women because their partners should also play a part in practicing safe sex. Though sexually transmitted infections can often be easily treated, some cannot be cured, and nobody wants to live with constant sexual infection breakouts. Thirty minutes of sexual enjoyment never outweighs weeks or months of worry, repeated visits to your local sexual health clinic and possible lifelong symptoms.
When you weigh up the potential consequences, why would anyone still leave things to chance, even if they only take the risk on two or three occasions a year? Yes, there are some women who experience negative side effects to particular contraceptives, but should that be a reason to ditch safe sex? Should the partners play a more pivotal role in using barrier contraceptives? For those females who react badly to hormonal contraception, it would surely be better to experiment with different forms of contraception and seek further information from qualified health professionals. There is a lot of help out there.
As part of Sexual Health Week 2014, the FPA released a survey detailing the reasons why many women don’t use emergency contraceptives (EC) following unprotected sex. The main factors turned out to be: embarrassment about asking a health professional for EC due to social stigmas, and not knowing enough about the different options available to them. It was those aged 16-24 who felt the highest level of embarrassment.
In my opinion, anyone involved in sexual health wants everyone, especially young people, to feel able to discuss sexual matters and not feel shame about seeking treatment for sexual health issues. In time, this will lead to fewer stigmas around contraception, and crucially, more couples will feel comfortable requesting information and treatment to suit their needs. There are many different ways you can obtain contraception: by visiting your GP to get a prescription, visiting an STI clinic or ordering from a reputable online clinic.