From time to time, unprotected sex will happen. You might not have intended it. You may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. No matter the reason, it is important to deal with the situation. Unprotected sex bears with it several risks. It is important that you understand these risks, and the steps you can take to minimize potentially harmful outcomes.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Also known as STDs, these are infections passed around through sexual contact. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites spread when bodily fluids flow from one person to another.
Barrier protection methods reduce this spread and the risk of STIs. Having sex without protection increases the likelihood of spreading STIs. If you engage in sex without protection, you should consider getting tested and potentially treated for infection.
The types of test and treatments administered will depend on the infection. The most common are:
- Chlamydia - An infection caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium. Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs worldwide, with the disease affecting more women than men, on average. Physicians test for Chlamydia via urinalysis or with swabs of the affected area. The disease is easily treated with antibiotics.
- Gonorrhea - - Another bacterial infection, caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The disease is common, though, symptoms can be so mild that an infected person may not realize they have it. It is curable with antibiotics and diagnosed by way of a urine sample of a physical swab.
- Syphilis - A bacterium known as Treponema pallidum causes the Syphilis infection. The disease was once in decline, but new cases increased sharply between 2005 and 2013. Antibiotics can prevent the later stages of the disease, and it is detectable by way of a blood test.
- HIV - The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is not treatable via antibiotics. Instead, those infected with HIV take medication known as antiretrovirals. These medications curtail the symptoms, allowing those with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. In instances where an uninfected person has unprotected sex and may be at risk, doctors may recommend Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). They will administer a 4-week course of antiretrovirals, with the intention of preventing the virus from taking hold in the body. A variety of blood and saliva tests are available to diagnose the disease.
Unprotected vaginal sex also poses a heightened risk for unintended pregnancy. Quick action can limit the chance that a woman will become pregnant after unprotected sex. The most effective post-sex pregnancy countermeasures are emergency contraceptive pills and IUDs.
Contraceptive pills are widespread and readily available for purchase at many pharmacies. They block pregnancy with various combinations of hormones. Women should take these pills within 72-hours of having unprotected sex. The sooner one decides to take ECPs post sex, the greater their effectiveness becomes. They do, however, have some side effects. Contraceptive pills can cause nausea, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, cramps, among other complications.
Copper IUDs (intrauterine devices) inhibit sperm from fertilizing eggs (preventing pregnancy). A trained professional must insert them, but they are highly effective, even as an emergency measure. IUDs can cause irregular menstrual periods, and a range of pains, nausea, and dizziness.
If you believe that you may already be pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test. Doctors can administer blood tests at their office to determine if you are pregnant. There are also home tests that you can use that analyze urine to determine pregnancy. Blood tests are the most precise, though urine tests are still 99% accurate in most cases.
In the event of unintended pregnancy, there are support resources that you can make use of to gain advice and information on what steps to take next.
Avoid Engaging In Unprotected Sex
There are many strategies that you can employ to avoid unprotected sex. Make sure to communicate with sexual partners about using protection. You should be clear about your intentions, and confident about not compromising.
Stay prepared. If you're going out, remember to take condoms with you. At your home, keep a supply and make them easily accessible. You might even consider leaving them in plain view to help convey that you prefer having protected sexual intercourse. A sexual encounter may happen unexpectedly. Making sure protection is readily available will keep you from getting caught unawares.
Make sure that you know the correct way to wear a condom. Ensure that you (or your partner) wear a well-fitting condom, and put it on right. Some partners may object to using protection as they feel it will limit the experience. There are plenty of resources for making protected sex as enjoyable as possible, and you should refer to them so that you and your partner have fun (and safe) time.