DOUBLE UP! SAY YES TO SAFER SEX.

Writer: Sinothando Ndelu

Healthy sexual and reproductive habits can improve your quality of life. Which contraceptive is your partner on? Which condoms do you like or use religiously? These are important to know. Poor understanding about contraception and inconstant usage has been found to contribute to the high incidents of unwanted pregnancy and STIs.  In order to reduce unwanted pregnancy and STIs, it is important to use dual contraception. Dual contraceptive, otherwise known as dual protection is the use of condoms and contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) including HIV. Dual contraception requires you to explore what works for you as an individual so that you can get to a point where sex is safer and therefore far more enjoyable. At the centre of all sexual encounters -be it for recreation, exploration or work- is consent.

Contraceptive enable people to choose if and when they want to have a baby. A range of devices and treatments that can help prevent pregnancy are available for both men and women. Some methods are more reliable than others. How well a method work often depends on how carefully it is used? The contraceptive pill, for example, used correctly, is over 99 percent effective. However, because people make mistakes, contraceptive adherence is critical to ensure that one does not find themselves confronted with an unwanted pregnancy.  Should you miss your contraceptives appointments as required, or suspect that condom use was not effective, ensure that you go to your nearest clinic or pharmacy for an emergency “morning after” pill. According to contraceptive guidelines, this pill can be used after 5 days after an unprotected sexual encounter. Remember – should you be pregnant and choose not to continue the pregnancy you have the right to a safe abortion.

If you use condoms perfectly every single time you have sex, they’re 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. People aren’t perfect. In real life condoms are about 85% effective — that means about 15 out of 100 people who use condoms as their only contraceptive method will get pregnant each year. The better you are about using condoms correctly every time you have sex, the better they’ll work.  There’s a small chance that you will get pregnant even if you always use them the right way, this is why the use of contraceptives, as second protection from pregnancy, is critical. Condoms also protect form STI infections.  An STI is a Sexually Transmitted Infection. You can get an STI by vaginal, anal and oral intercourse or contact with bodily fluids such as sperm, semen saliva, blood, and vaginal discharge. Very few STI’s can be transmitted through skin contact outside of the genital area. Condoms come in a variety of sizes, flavours and textures for your protection and pleasure. Removing a condom during sex without your partner’s consent is stealthing.  Stealthing is sexual assault and therefore a criminal offence.

Whatever sex means to you, being sexual with another person comes with a lot of responsibility. Before you have sex, think about the things you feel comfortable doing. Ask the other person what they feel comfortable doing, and think about any risks involved – for example, STIs or pregnancy and how to help prevent them. Doubling up is not a question of whether or not your partner is faithful. It is a shared decision to protect yourselves from STIs, which may or may not be symptomatic and to prevent unwanted pregnancy.  Important to remember is that just as there is an emergency pill for pregnancy prevention- there is effective HIV prevention methods  called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), should you have  had an unprotected encounter. There is also PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It is a daily drug that can be taken by people who don’t have HIV to prevent them from being infected with the virus. All this requires you to invest lifesaving information so that you leave a life that reflects healthy sexual choices.

About ACTIVATE!

ACTIVATE! is a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa. Connecting youth who have the skills, sense of self and spark to address tough challenges and initiate innovative and creative solutions that can reshape our society.

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