What Does It Really Mean to Have Unprotected Sex?

When you hear the phrase “unprotected sex,” what does it mean to you? For some men and women, unprotected sex means engaging in sex without any protection against pregnancy. For others, it means engaging in sex without any protection against the spread of STIs.

In reality, unprotected sex means engaging in sex that protects against neither pregnancy NOR STIs.

When you have sex with no barriers in place whatsoever, you are completely vulnerable to contracting an infection (or several), and you are at risk of conceiving and becoming pregnant (or impregnating someone).

If you rely on birth control methods, such as birth control pills, Depo-Provera injections, arm implants, vaginal rings, IUDs, FemCaps, or diaphragms, you increase your protection against conception. However, even with the methods mentioned, you still remain unprotected from infection and run the serious risk of contracting one or more STIs.

How to Have Safe(r) Sex

While unprotected sex is highly risky and opens you up to the possibility of contracting an STI or becoming pregnant, safe sex—or, more accurately, safer sex, since no one can 100% guarantee protection will work every single time—helps lower those risks.

But what is safer sex?

Safer sex is sexual intercourse with either a male or female condom. Condoms work to:

  • Prevent semen from entering the uterus so that sperm cannot reach and fertilize a released egg
  • Help prevent the spread of any infectious bacteria or virus from one partner to the other

What’s the Difference Between a Male Condom and Female Condom?

Both a male and female condom creates a barrier between the penis and the vagina and collects semen, helping reduce the spread of STIs and preventing pregnancy from occurring. The difference is all in how they are applied:

  • Male condoms are designed to fit securely over the penis and create a barrier between the penis and vagina.
  • Female condoms are designed to be inserted into the vagina for a looser but still protective barrier.

Why Can’t Sex Be 100% Safe?

Safer Sex Can Still Lead to Pregnancy

It’s true that sex can be a fun, enjoyable experience between two consenting partners. However, biologically speaking, sex isn’t about the enjoyment of it—it’s all about reproduction. Any time a man and woman engage in vaginal sex, even protected sex, there is always a possibility of sperm making its way into the uterus and fertilizing an egg.

Condoms and other barrier methods (like diaphragms, FemCaps and copper IUDs) work to help prevent conception from occurring, and hormonal birth control methods (like birth control pills, injections, vaginal rings, arm implants and hormonal IUDs) interfere with ovulation to significantly lower your chances of pregnancy.

However, condoms can break. Diaphragms, FemCaps, and IUDs can slip out of place. Women on hormonal birth control can miss a pill, fail to get an injection on schedule, forget to change out a vaginal ring or do something else to cause the effectiveness to drop. When any of these incidents or others occur, your risk of pregnancy following vaginal sex increases.

Safer Sex Can Still Lead to STIs

The widespread presence of sexually transmitted bacteria, viruses, or parasites causes any form of sexual intercourse to become inherently risky. Getting tested before engaging in sex is always a smart decision, but you can’t always be sure your partner has also been tested; if they have, you can’t always be sure they underwent a full-panel test or are being honest about their results. Using condoms during vaginal, anal or even oral sex is always the smartest move to help prevent spreading or contracting an STI.

However, while condoms do reduce the spread of STIs, they can’t ensure all viruses, bacteria or parasites are blocked. Some STIs are spread through skin-to-skin contact, not bodily fluids. If your skin comes in contact with an uncovered and infected area on your partner or vice versa, then you or your partner could spread the infection to the other. Plus, condoms can break or slip out of place, increasing your risk of spreading or contracting an STI.

Are You Afraid Unprotected Sex or Even Safer Sex Has Led to Pregnancy or an STI? Turn to Women’s Clinic of Atlanta for Answers and Next Steps.

Our compassionate medical team offers judgment-free pregnancy or STI testing to determine whether or not sex has led to conception or an infection. Based on your results, we will share info about our pregnancy services, deliver treatment for curable STIs, or provide management information for uncurable STIs. We can also talk with you about all our birth control options—we offer both hormonal and barrier methods for the most protection possible.

Schedule an appointment by texting “appointment” to 404-777-4771 today.

Women’s Clinic of Atlanta is HIPAA compliant and AAAHC accredited.

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