Unprotected sex can have several risks associated with it. If you are sexually active, it is your responsibility to know the risks. Why go through the unnecessary stress of whether you have contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD), or an unplanned pregnancy? Practice safe sex. Safe sex is having sexual contact, whilst protecting yourself and your partner from the mishaps of unprotected sex. While having safe sex, the partners don’t exchange vaginal fluids, semen, blood or any other bodily fluids. Here is a brief guide on how you can practise safe sex.

USE CONDOMS

These are an effective form of protection, which are also easily available. Most condom packets will guarantee a 90% chance of protection; however, there are still risks of the condom breaking during intercourse. Condoms act as a barrier for the exchange of bodily fluids. They are available for both men and women. The male condom is a strong, latex-rubber sheath, whereas, a female condom is made of polyurethane. Make sure to always use a new condom every time you have sex. Before using it, make sure to check the expiry date and whether the condom is intact, not torn.

GET TESTED REGULARLY FOR STDS

Speaking to a doctor can help you make the right decision. Health care professionals usually recommend blood tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You can protect yourself and your partner by taking tests, regularly. This will prevent them from contracting any infections from you or vice versa. If you are in a relationship, both of you should communicate openly about any STDs. It is always better to find out beforehand rather than suffer the consequences.

CONSIDER USING BIRTH CONTROL

If you are a woman and have sex often, then invest in some oral contraceptives for protection against unplanned pregnancy. These are oral pills that regulate your fertility cycles by targeting your hormones. Take the pill every day, consistently and appropriately, for it to be 99% effective. These pills have to be taken every day for 21 days after which you stop taking it. During this pause, you should get your period. During the time you are not taking the pill, you are not protected, therefore be cautious when engaging in sexual activity. Pills can come in either in a 21-pack or 28-pack. There are many types of oral contraceptives available, therefore, it is best to speak to a doctor and have regular check-ups with them to monitor the effect of the pill on your body.

EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION

This should always be the last resort if you’ve had sex without protection. Take emergency contraception, within 72 hours after having unprotected sex to prevent possible pregnancy. Beyond 72 hours, the effectiveness of emergency contraceptive pills comes down. The pill works by causing a strong surge in the hormones that regulate ovulation and results in a cycle without ovulation. Remember, emergency contraception only prevents ovulation if it has already not occurred. Hence it is not an abortifacient. Instead it acts to prevent a pregnancy. However, if ovulation has happened and you are already pregnant it cannot stop the pregnancy.

In order to practice safe sex, it is essential to communicate effectively with your partner. Do not rush into anything without thinking it through. It is important to be ready before you become sexually active.

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