A common misconception many people have is that their birth control method automatically makes them safes from contracting any infection that can be passed on from sexual intercourse. Well, safe sex refers to protection from not one but two consequences – unwanted pregnancy and disease contraction.
Let’s take a reality check on what safe sex really translates to and delve into the best possible ways for ensuring safe sex.
The natural outcome of sexual intercourse leads to pregnancy.
There are various protection methods (contraceptives) like condoms, birth control pills, etc. that can be opted for to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, but it is important for a person to plan the protection method that is right for them beforehand, know how it works and its efficacy in preventing pregnancy and diseases (talked about next).
Not all birth control methods can protect an adult against transferring or contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and not all methods that prevent STD offer birth control.
Despite a condom prevents STDs to an extent, it is not best birth control – it is not 100% fool proof.
So, what’s the solution for ensuring sex that is 100 per cent safe from pregnancy and STD?
The answer does not lie in one product, as studies show that even the best protection method offers a 99 per cent chance of preventing the unfavourable outcome. The next best way to ensure safe sex is for the partner(s) to include more than protection method in order to ensure that they cover both negative outcomes.
Hormonal methods – Various female contraceptive methods like the birth control pill, intra-uterine device (IUD) and vaginal ring regulate the hormones of the menstrual cycle to inhibit pregnancy. These are shown to be around 99 per cent effective in birth control. Disadvantages: They do not protect against STDs, and forgetting to take the daily pill can cause the egg to release from ovary, increasing chance of conception.
Barrier methods – Barrier method creates a physical barrier between the sperm and the egg. For men, it involves the use of condom, which is used for birth control, and is also the best available protection against STDs (if used correctly). Women can use female condoms, diaphragm and cervical cap. The key for an effective barrier method is that it must be used correctly and consistently.
Sterilisation – Tubectomy or tubal ligation is a surgical procedure that seals or clamps a woman’s fallopian tubes, preventing eggs from reaching the uterus. In men, vasectomy seals off the vasa deferntia to prevent the release of sperm. Considerations: These are permanent procedures and should be considered only if the person does not want to have children in future. Also, this method does not offer any protection against STDs.
Vaccination – As a side precaution against developing a hepatitis B and C, which are transmitted sexually, adults can get themselves vaccinated for hepatitis B and reduce their risk. This, however, does not rule out the need for a birth control method and protection method against other STDs.
Thus, choose wise and choose right!
“Birth Control Pills,” WebMD.com, http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills
“Condoms and STDs: Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel,” CDC.gov, http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.htm
“How effective is contraception at preventing pregnancy?” NHS.uk, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/how-effective-contraception.aspx
“Safe sex,” Better Health, State Government of Victoria, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Safe_sex
“Understanding Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention,” WebMD.com, http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/understanding-stds-prevention
Image courtesy of [photostock] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net