Sex is totally natural, great fun and an interesting exercise as well. Having said this, it needs to be emphasized that sexual intercourse involves certain health risks because of the exchange of bodily fluids among partners.
Any kind of sexual activity— penile-vaginal sex, genital-oral sex or anal sex can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STD) if those involved have multiple partners, or have unprotected sex with people who may be infected with STDs such as genital herpes, genital warts, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and many others. It also increases the risk of protracting deadly diseases such as AIDS, Hepatitis B and C.
STDs Can Ruin You Forever
Media reports suggest that there is gross ignorance among many young people who believe sexually transmitted diseases are easily curable. Truth is, only some STDs like Chlamydia can be cured. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can only be managed with medication and there is a serious danger that HIV will eventually lead to AIDS, the killer disease. According to a recent UNICEF survey, more than half of fresh HIV cases all over the world happen to be that of young people aged 15-25 years—which simply means, young and sexually active people are currently at a higher risk of becoming HIV positive.
Likewise, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causes genital warts and can lead to the fatal cervical cancer in women. British model and Reality TV star Jade Goody’s swan song as she died a painful death from cervical cancer is a sad reminder that the clock cannot be set back once the damage is done.
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) causing Genital Herpes can be managed but cannot be cured. Though HSV 2 is generally associated with Genital Herpes, HSV1 known to cause cold sores is also known to cause genital herpes. Since there is no known cure for genital herpes, the infected person has to suffer painful lesions in and around the genital area during each outbreak and also the possible transmission of the herpes virus to a partner for the rest of their life. Moreover Herpes infection outbreak makes a person more vulnerable to HIV infection because the virus can easily enter the body through the herpes lesions.
Those who have multiple sex partners and who indulge in unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex can contract and transmit Hepatitis B and C, which are deadly viral diseases that cause hepatitis. Chronic infections can lead to cirrhosis and even liver cancer, which has a poor outcome. More recently it has been discovered that hepatitis C virus has serious implications on the lung too.
Condoms are not known to prevent Hepatitis viral infection, but their proper use can minimize infection.
Keep Condoms Handy
A condom prevents the intermingling of body fluids (saliva, blood, semen or vaginal fluids) from one person to another during sexual intercourse. These body fluids can contain disease-causing germs that can cause syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, genital herpes, genital warts and even AIDS. If a condom is not used, an infected partner can pass on the disease to an unsuspecting, uninfected partner. Though condoms are not entirely dependable in their protection against all STDs, they still offer the best protection against most sexually transmitted diseases.
Safe Sex and Women
STDs can be dangerous for anyone, but women are known to suffer the consequences more than men. For instance, many STDs can seriously damage a woman’s reproductive organs rendering her infertile. Women are prone to cervical cancer caused by HPV. Worldwide statistics prove that women belong to the vulnerable group that is getting increasingly infected with HIV.
Additionally, if a woman has an STD while she is pregnant, she can pass on the infection to her baby. Women who have an outbreak of herpes virus while they are pregnant, risk entering premature labor and passing on the virus to the infant that can in turn lead to the baby’s nerve damage and death. So it is with AIDS, Hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Women who engage in prostitution are generally open to risks of sexually transmitted diseases. Though they are aware that condoms can prevent STDs to some extent, they are rarely in a position to dictate terms to a customer. Female condoms are expensive and often not user-friendly. Surveys done among sex workers, especially in under developed and developing countries, suggest that female sex workers would say ‘No’ to condoms and ‘Yes’ to customers, rather than insist on using condoms and risk losing customers who demand the “natural feel.”
Safe Sex Today is Abstinence
"There is no such thing as safe sex for someone contemplating sex with an HIV-positive person." Dr. Michael Gottlieb (his was the first original report to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on gay-related immune deficiency (GRID). It was later renamed AIDS.)
With increasing health risks in sex, many people agree that abstaining from sex—especially of the casual, sexual play is the only sure way that can guarantee freedom from unwanted pregnancy and sexual disease infections. Sexual abstinence is practiced by many people all over the world who wait until marriage or until they have established a permanent relationship with another and then get sexually intimate with the partner.
Abstinence can fail on two counts. For many, sex is an uncontrollable basic instinct and when caught in a passionate moment, all vows of abstinence are forgotten. Secondly, abstaining from sex is not often a choice for women and girls in underdeveloped countries reeling under male domination.
The ABC Approach
The three key behaviors that can control sexually transmitted diseases summed up as the ABC approach are: Abstinence or delaying sexual initiation among youth, Being faithful to a single sexual partner (avoiding multiple partners) and correct and consistent use of condoms especially in high-risk groups.
The USAID reports a remarkable decline in HIV in countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Thailand, Cambodia, India, by implementing the ABC approach and other preventive behaviors.
Safe Sex Tips
- Postpone your sexual experimentation or sexual initiation till you are out of your teens or really mature enough to have safe sex
- Avoid reckless sexuality and take precautions before you become sexually intimate with a person
- Refrain from wild partying that involves alcohol, drugs and risky sexual behavior
- Beware of irresponsible partners who can lace your drink with ketamine drug and exploit you sexually when you are senseless
- Talk with your partner about his/her sexual history and it is safer for both of you to get tested for STDs if you are frequently changing partners
- Never have any type of sexual intercourse without condoms
- If using sex toys make sure you clean them always with disinfectant before and after use each time
- Avoid anal sex because it involves a greater amount of friction and other stress that can induce the condom to tear. Even otherwise, anal intercourse is too risky because rectal tissues can tear and bleed and disease germs can be easily transmitted from one person to another through the wounds.
The only safe sex that is truly safe is lovemaking in a mutually faithful relationship where both partners are HIV negative and free from sexually transmitted diseases.
Sex is a great stress buster and a powerful expression of love. It is important that a man and a woman stay faithful to each other for life in a sexual relationship in order to ensure that the wonderful fun doesn’t become the worst nightmare.
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Kaya Kalp International Sex And Health Clinics, Dadar West, Mumbai
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Abhisarika Counseling Center, Motinagar, Hyderabad