I remember as I was growing up, everyone was talking about safe sex. I was young, innocent and although the subject made me blush a little I got the message that to enjoy sex you need to be careful.

The word AIDS was spoken out loud and was spoken frequently. People needed to get informed, whether straight, bisexual, gay, about the dangers of HIV/AIDS. How it was transmitted, the ways you could be protected. People got educated about it and the “fear” of what could happen made them enjoy sex while paying attention to safety.

Condoms were promoted tremendously. I still remember the high-school teacher who opened up a condom in front of us and talked about the importance of using condoms by both sexes, for our protection. Condoms stopped being a taboo, right there and then.colored condoms

As my highschool years are long gone (yes, I am getting older!) however, I came to realise that gradually people stopped fearing about the possible health risks of unprotected sex. People’s main concern moved towards the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy but not even that prompts them enough to use condoms.

People seem to no longer be afraid of HIV/AIDS or any other sexually transmitted Infection (STI), like gonorrhea or Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Even though we live in a modern society, many men and women (and sexually active teens unfortunately) do not think that using a condom is that necessary after all.

The talk about AIDS has subsided and so has the fear apparently. Other STIs are not considered such a big problem either. Maybe because people don’t have all the facts, maybe because “someone else will get them and not us”, maybe because we are just reckless?

STI worldwide facts

  • More than 1 million people acquire an STI every day.
  • Each year, an estimated 500 million people become ill with one of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
  • The majority of STIs are present without symptoms.
  • Some STIs can increase the risk of HIV acquisition 3-fold or more.
  • Mother-to-child transmission of STIs can result in stillbirth, neonatal death, low-birth-weight and prematurity, sepsis, pneumonia, neonatal conjunctivitis, and congenital deformities.
  • Syphilis in pregnancy leads to approximately 305 000 fetal and neonatal deaths every year and leaves 215 000 infants at increased risk of dying from prematurity, low-birth-weight or congenital disease.
  • HPV infection causes 530 000 cases of cervical cancer and 275 000 cervical cancer deaths each year.
  • STIs such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia are major causes of pelvic inflammatory disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes and infertility.

Source: WHO

In 2013, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) conducted a survey in the US, regarding the sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection, among youths. The results showed that fewer high school students that are sexually active used a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse (63 percent in 2003 compared to 59 percent in 2013). Unfortunately, this leaves more students vulnerable to HIV, STIs, and unintended pregnancy.

Another survey, on the more than 4 million sexually active New Yorker’s, has shown that only 31.8% used a condom the last time they had sex, leaving a staggering 68.2% unprotected.

In the other side of the world, Europe, irregular condom use is also a trend. A dutch study has revealed that couples in casual relationships use condoms only 33.5% of the time, whereas as relationships progressed and couples formed committed relationship irregular condom use was observed (used condoms 14% of the time).

Condoms, when used consistently and correctly:

  • are the only proven method for both birth control and STI prevention
  • are highly effective in preventing pregnancy
  • cannot be penetrated by STI pathogens
  • reduce the risk for many STIs that are transmitted by genital fluids, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis
  • reduce the risk for genital ulcer diseases, like genital herpes, syphilis and chancroid,only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected
  • may reduce the risk for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and HPV-associated diseases (e.g., genital warts and cervical cancer)

Source: CDC

As I have already mention in one of my previous article’s, “women have fought for many years to have our rights acknowledged, to be respected. Women are still fighting to have integrity over their bodies, our bodies, and to choose when and if they will have babies.” Sadly, quite often women are too shy to ask their partner to use a condom in case he gets “offended” or, in case he says no, without realizing the risk they are putting themselves under.

no-condom-no-sexExcuses can be powerful which can lead to sobering consequences. You should think about yourself and not blame the other person if he chooses not to use protection. If a guy says no to condom use, then walk away unless you want to sleep with all his previous partners and face the possible consequences.

Often men are bragging about being “too big” to fit into a condom. Well, the reality is there are condoms available for all sizes and tastes! And for those that say that using a condom takes all the pleasure away, developers at the University of Manchester are investigating the production of the thinnest and strongest condom ever.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded scientists $100,000 (£60,000) to create stronger, thinner condoms from the new material “graphene”. This new condom, scientists believe, will enhance sensation and encourage more condom use. So, be patient, I say; good things come to those who wait.

Of course, there are female condoms available too. The female condom is effective against pregnancy and STIs, including AIDS. However, it is not thought to work as well as male condoms in protecting against STDs. (Source: CDC)

Lovemaking should be enjoyed. Lovemaking should be fun. Don’t let it become a health hazard. The only way to be safe is to practise 100% condom use. Don’t be shy, get protection!

 

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Lab scientist, sharp dresser and cooking guru Maria is one half of the original alwaysladies.com founding team. She brings her opinions with earnestness and a smile, even when there are razor blades inside.

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