Opinion

Responsible sex feels the best | Amy Johnson

I recently read a quote by Heather Childers from Fox News. She said that women don’t really need birth control.

“Let women stop having irresponsible sex,” she said. “Let’s stop making excuses and providing a way to get women out of trouble when they should be responsible in their behavior.”

Silly me. Here I’ve been thinking that women who use birth control are being responsible in their sexual activity. Isn’t that what contraception is all about, preventing unwanted pregnancies? By reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, we are also reducing the number of women who are in a position to consider abortion.

And what about guys? Are they exempt from responsible behavior? Let’s talk more about responsible sex, shall we? Not having irresponsible sex means you:

• Are sure you are ready to have sex. Whether you are young or older and hopefully wiser, it’s your choice in a relationship whether you want to be sexual. This is true from day to day, week to week, month to month. If you have moral objections, doubts about emotional or physical readiness of you and your partner, concerns about safety or the sexual history of a potential partner — or you plain just don’t feel like it — you can abstain. Abstinence remains the only 100 percent way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Owning the decision to be sexually active, or not, is responsible.

• Use contraception. Since seven out of 10 women of reproductive age are sexually active, and the average woman only wants two children, some sort of contraception is necessary for roughly three decades of a woman’s life. “More than 99 percent of all women ages 15 to 44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method,” said Jodi Jacobson, editor of RH Reality Check. Using contraception if you don’t want to become pregnant is responsible.

• Use a barrier method. When used consistently and correctly, male latex condoms are highly effective in preventing most sexually-transmitted infections. Condoms reduce risk for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. People who are sexually active and use condoms are being responsible.

• Get tested. Nearly 10,000 teens in the U.S. are infected with a sexually transmitted infection each day. They account for approximately half of our country’s 19 million STIs each year. That means the other 9.5 million cases are contracted by adults (letstalkaboutsexthefilm.com).

The Centers for Disease Control reports that “Less than half of people who should be screened receive recommended STD screening services.”

Untreated STIs can lead to infertility and even death. In addition, many have no symptoms, so without being tested, you may be unwittingly passing one on to someone else — which we can all agree is irresponsible. At the very least, if you are sexually active, you should request specific STI testing yearly.

You’ll need to ask, as many tests are not routinely covered in your annual exam. Get tested more often if you have multiple partners or a new partner. For more information, go to www.itsyoursexlife.com/gyt. Getting tested is being responsible.

Talk to your partner. While you won’t know for sure if either of you has an STI unless you’re tested, discuss the issue with any potential sexual partner. Responsible sex includes having a discussion about past partners, testing and how you plan to prevent pregnancy and disease in your intimate relationship.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a start. If you are sexually active at any age, be responsible. We have the technology — now use it.

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