Now – everybody likes a little risk now and then. When we were younger we may have tried to see just how high we might be able to go on that swing set. Don’t lie to yourself! You did. Remember the first time you tried Sushi even though all you actually wanted was a burger? What about auditioning for a role in your school’s new play? Even though you may be up against more experienced students, if you happen to get it, the outcome SO makes all that nervousness worth it! And even if you don’t get it, just going through the experience makes you a better person.
We take risks because we hope they’re worth the reward. Most times when we fail, we just stand up and brush ourselves off and move on to the next challenge. Even through failure we learn more about ourselves and become a stronger person.
But not all risks are good ones. Yeah – you might get a slight adrenaline rush, but our fear and rationalization usually kick in first. And I know that I, for one, am thankful for that! We know that we probably shouldn’t go 100 MPH on the highway, or take any substances and drive, or try to act like Edward Cullen and try to climb ridiculously tall trees. It’s. Just. Dumb. Nothing good can come of it, and I’m hoping most of us have the brains to say NO before we even attempt to do one of these!
What about the risks of engaging in sexual activity? One can become pregnant or impregnate someone or possibly contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Nowadays many people don’t see having sex as a ‘risky behavior’ because they’re usually taking ‘precautions’ and using different forms of ‘protection.’ This includes: Oral/anal sex instead of vaginal sex, “pulling out,” spermicides, hormonal contraceptives, and condoms. But the big question is… How safe are these different precautions? Do they take the risk out of sex?
The answer is: NO!!! Absolutely NO form of contraceptive is 100% reliable in taking away BOTH the risk of pregnancy and/or an STI!!!
Now let’s play a game called Myth Busters and look at each a little bit more closely…
- Most teens believe it’s not sex if it’s of the oral or anal variety. And that sex can only be when a guy and a girl have vaginal intercourse. We’ve heard it plenty of times in our main stream society – even from our past Presidents! I’m pretty sure the phrase “I did not have sexual intercourse with that woman” will always be remembered. But, President Clinton, hate to tell ya, but ya did. Oral sex IS sex! Now it is true that there is little to no chance of becoming pregnant by choosing to participate in oral or anal sex instead of vaginal sex (it’s simple logic here). BUT – that does NOT mean you aren’t still at risk of getting an STI! Almost all infections have the possibility of being spread through oral sex! Yep. HIV, herpes, chlamydia, etc. Everything. So don’t be fooled! And don’t go around spreading false information! Now ya know.
- The pulling out method is one of the riskiest methods of contraception, if even a real form at all. Many people believe that as long as a guy doesn’t ejaculate in a woman, nothing can go wrong. A girl can’t get pregnant, and since there was no exchange of body fluids, then, no infections can be transmitted. EEEEEEEEE! Stop here! You’re wrong! There is this little thing called pre-ejaculation. In case you don’t know already, some sperm can leave the penis before ejaculation. It only takes a little bit for anything to go wrong, so both impregnation and STIs are a great risk you take. Also, contradictory to some beliefs, not every infection is passed along through bodily fluids. Both herpes and HPV are skin-to-skin infections; which means that as long as any infected portion of the skin touches any other area of the skin, you can become infected.
- Spermicide gels are another form of contraception. They are found on condoms and other barriers, but can also be used on their own. The purpose of spermicide is to kill any sperm during a sexual act. So yeah, it is helpful when preventing pregnancies. But, of course, it is NOT 100% effective!!! Want to know the real unexpected kicker about spermicides? They can actually help spread STIs such as HIV. Instead of decreasing your risk of contracting one, by using spermicides you’re actually increasing your risk. DEFINITELY not worth it.
- Birth Control Pills/Patches/Rings are a very popular option for contraception and are widely used nowadays. Now, when it comes to preventing pregnancies, they are quite effective compared to the other forms…when used properly. The pill needs to be taken EVERY day at the about the same time or else it becomes less effective. If it’s not taken everyday (or even at the same time), it is very possible that you can get pregnant. Even with correct use, the pill is not 100% effective at preventing pregnancies. There is still always a chance it can happen. And although the pill may be a popular way to prevent pregnancies, it provides absolutely no help at preventing STIs! If used as the main form of contraception, it’s still very easy to contract an infection!
- Condoms are one of the most common forms of contraception, and probably where your mind first went to at the beginning of this post. You’ve probably already been told this, and it is true, that there is a decrease in probability of becoming pregnant or contracting an infection by CONSISTENT and CORRECT use of condoms. That means every single time it has to be used correctly in order to work best. Sadly enough, most times with teens, condoms are neither used consistently nor correctly… Still, even with perfect use, they are not perfectly able to prevent pregnancies or STIs from being spread. Once again, condoms aren’t guaranteed to protect against skin-to-skin diseases such as herpes and HPV with perfect use, since not all of the infected area is covered!
And even though perfect use of contraceptives, ie, using them correctly every time, can reduce risk of pregnancy and sometimes STIs, not everyone uses contraceptives correctly or every time they have sex. This typical use of contraceptives, ie, less than perfect use, leaves a lot more to chance. Now all scary STIs aside – let’s just look at the statistics for each contraceptive option and the risk for getting pregnant or impregnating your partner based upon typical use. When it comes to the withdrawal method; 1 in 4 couples who rely on it will become pregnant. With spermicides; 1 in 3 couples who rely on it will become pregnant. With hormonal contraceptives; 1 in 12 couples who rely on it will become pregnant. With male condoms; 1 in 8 couples who rely on it will become pregnant.
There is no known form of contraception that can totally prevent the spread of STIs; and in fact, most give absolutely no protection at all.
So lets leave Risk for board games, Ok? Don’t forget – the only way to ABSOLUTELY prevent pregnancies and STIs is through abstinence. Wait to have sex until you are in a faithful and dedicated monogamous relationship, and with a partner who has waited themselves.
Now go out there and go skydiving instead!