Let's Talk About Sex: Choose Your Risks Wisely

By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added October 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm

In everything we do there is an inherent risk of something happening as a result. If you drive, you could die. If you eat, you could die. If you do nothing, you could die the most boring death ever.

So it’s no surprise having sex could kill you. The risk is improbably low, but there are several scenarios revolving around sex that could end in your death.

When I was in high school sexual education courses, those risks were exaggerated to the point that they lost all effect. But it didn’t stop them from pushing the “don’t have sex, because if you have sex you’ll get pregnant and die” message on everyone.

At the time I thought it was ridiculous fear mongering. Now when I hear sex educators berate people with horror stories and crazy images in an attempt to get them to practice safer sex, it makes me Sideshow Bob-level homicidal.

Like I’ve openly admitted, sex is risky. STIs could be a major problem, and most people’s blasé attitude toward safer sex is more than a bit irresponsible. But the fact is people will do what the hell they want to do. There is no amount of fear that’s going to stop people from making bad or unsafe decisions.

So instead of shoving blue waffle in people’s face, why don’t we simply have a rational conversation about the risks involved with sex?

Let me start by saying it is my personal opinion as a well-educated and rational sexual educator that when there is penetrative sex you should use safer sex practices the first time and every time.

The cost and accessibility of condoms and latex barriers, especially on or near a college campus, is such a low barrier that there is almost no reason not to have and use them.

Plus, there are many other safer sex practices that cost nothing more than a bit of awareness about your and your partner’s bodies.

Having said all that, I also recognize stuff happens: you forgot the condom, it broke mid-coitus or you got so blasted on $3 Chuck you could barely see, let alone make a rational decision.

In those times I know you’d do anything rather than wait 15 minutes for a quick trip the drug store. It is in those moments you have to make a decision. Do you stop and do things as safely as you can or do you go ahead until all involved parties are fully sated?

The decision is simple. If you and whomever else you’re doing everything but sleeping with accept the additional risks of possibly contracting HIV, chlamydia, HPV, pregnancy, bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, syphilis and herpes, then go for it.

However, if the idea of any of those risks makes you uneasy or gives you pause, then you need to stop.

Cool off and settle for mutual handies or something less risky than bareback penetration. No, a hand is not what you signed up for and sure, slowing down might not lead to the orgasm of big horny college kid. But you’ll still reach a conclusion without increasing your risk to uncomfortable levels.

Accepting the risk of contracting an STI cannot be taken lightly. Depending on the chamber you are gifted with in this sexy game of Russian roulette, you could be looking at a trip to the doctor or a lifetime of treatment.

If you are not in a financial position to handle the worst possible consequence, then you should stop. If you are not in the mental position to handle the worst possible consequence, then you should stop. If you are so riled up that your mind can’t think of anything but sex, then you absolutely need to stop.

Of course, if you’re that riled up, you probably don’t have the conscious thought to even consider these things, which is why you should be aware of your values before you find yourself in a situation like that. But if your mind is clear enough to consider these things, then you should be able to take two minutes to run down the hall to get a condom from a friend.

Saran Wrap and Ziploc bags are not adequate substitutes for a condom; but Saran Wrap is an adequate substitute for a latex barrier for mouth to anus, skin, vagina and scrotum. That sort of plastic wrap is most often made of polyurethane, so those with latex allergies might find it to be useful.

If you decide getting off is worth the risk, as many people do, you need to shoulder the burden of any consequences on your own. Neither your parents nor the government should be footing the bill for your morning-after pill, antiretroviral drugs or your trip to the clinic because you decided not to take the simple step of wearing a condom.

That being said, if you do make a mistake, do not wait to get it fixed by whatever means you have available. Don’t ever be ashamed of the decisions you’ve made. Learn your lessons and handle it with dignity.

Just like with everything else in life, making a decision of what risks you are willing to take is one you can’t make blindly. You need to be making these decisions with proper education. If you think you know it all, you don’t. Even I am willing to admit I don’t know it all. You might wonder why as an active sexual educator I have sat through 22 lectures on the same topic; it’s because things change, rapidly.

The ebb and flow of infection rates differ annually, new medicines and techniques are developed, new trials and studies are performed and I want to keep up with it all. Unless you’re doing the same, don’t assume you have the latest data to make a sensible decision.

Education is your best option for protecting yourself. The things you learn might be scary, but you shouldn’t shy away. The things you learn might be confidence building, but you shouldn’t be arrogant.

STIs are not prejudiced; they do not care who you are or who you think you are. Their mission in life is to procreate and your uninfected tender, nubile body is prime real estate they are looking to call home.

In this world we always have to protect ourselves. Your partner should care for you and your health just as much as he or she cares for his or herself. But sadly, that will not always be true.

Making an educated, responsible decision on how risky you will allow your sex to be is a must for any sexually active person.

Don’t allow anyone to pressure you into situations you don’t want to be in. By using your own thoughtful and fully considerate guidelines, you can never make a wrong decision.

In short, just don’t be stupid

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