A survey of 2000 women revealed that seven out of ten women, ages 18 to 40, regularly engage in unprotected sex. Furthermore, one in five women trust their partners – whether it’s someone they are in a monogamous relationship with or someone who is a more casual sexual partner – to not give them a Sexually Transmitted Infection.
While these results might not seem surprising, the participants were educated professionals. So why are some of these women putting their health at risk so readily? Some of the top reasons are lack of adequate sexual education, being uncomfortable bringing up protection to a partner and feeling like contraception isn’t readily available.
When people don’t take care of their own sexual health, they set themselves up for unplanned pregnancies and contracting STI’s. Aside from the health effects – fertility issues, health issues for a fetus, and cancer to name a few – treating (or caring for those that are irreversible) are extremely costly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the country’s 19 million new STI infections each year cost up to $15.9 billion. While that may seem like a huge number of infections and an exorbitant amount of money, it’s actually believed to be more than that: many STI’s (and their costs), like herpes and HPV are not reported by the CDC.
How can women gain more control? The first part is to make sure to keep regular appointments with doctors and OB-Gyn’s, especially if there is concerning issue – bumps, rashes, sores, itchiness, etc. Get comfortable asking the tough questions and learning and engaging in personal healthcare. Next, unless a baby is in the plans of the near future, find a method of birth control that works with your lifestyle. Part of the Affordable Care Act makes birth control free. If you are single, casually dating or you are unsure of your partner’s STI status, keep your own stash of condoms.
The survey showed that one in ten women get embarrassed when it comes to bringing up protection to a new partner. While chatting about protection and a partner’s sexual past can be uncomfortable or awkward, engaging in the conversation is essential. Pick a neutral location to talk it out and develop a plan that works for your relationship so the pressure is off when it’s time to hop between the sheets.
The only way to completely prevent the contraction of an STI is absitnance. While they aren’t completely foolproof, condoms work wonders in preventing some, including HIV and AIDS. The most important steps a person can take is to educate themselves, assess their risks and act accordingly.
By Alexandra Morbitzer @FitLatina