The collapse of the condom?

Is unsafe sex just another thing to regret in the morning? Even though it seems like everything has a cure, Elizabeth Steele evaluates just how safe we should be in this day and age

12th December 2016

The days of embarrassment and shame surrounding sex are far removed from the present day’s attitude; now, it seems our society is saturated with sexuality.

The fears of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations seem distant in an age where teenage pregnancy is glamorized on MTV and young people have more information at their disposal than ever before. Nowadays, we know that pregnancy is not the scariest risk of unsafe sex.

When you are in a committed relationship, birth control might be the only issue you need to consider. Today, it is relatively easy to get ahold of the Pill, or alternate birth control methods. Figures show that teenage pregnancy in the UK is dropping. It is great that girls are protecting themselves against accidental pregnancies and taking control of their reproductive health.

However, rates of sexually transmitted diseases are still high. A government report found that in 2015, there were 435,000 diagnoses of STIs in England. The most at-risk group is the under-25s. A 2013 study published by The Lancet found that, in the 16-24 age range, 16.4% of men and 14.3% of women had at least two sexual partners in the past year with whom they had not used a condom.

Sometimes, when you’re swept up in the romance of the moment, or if you’ve had a bit too much to drink, you might forget or decide not to waste a few moments on a condom. These things happen.

“A report found that in 2015, there were 435,000 diagnoses of STIs in


But why aren’t today’s youths, arguably the most sexually informed generation ever, being as safe as possible?

A popular reason for not using condoms stems from the belief that they detract from sexual pleasure – but this is surely a small price to pay for avoiding infections.

Some argue that condoms are expensive – except that you can get free condoms at many NHS locations, effectively invalidating this argument. In fact, the NHS website has a page locating free condom services, with over 20 pages of results for Newcastle alone.

Are young people just not scared of getting sexually transmitted diseases anymore? Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea can be swiftly treated and, thanks to modern medicine, even HIV is not the death sentence it was 30 years ago.

Still, it seems daft to have to go through treatment for something that is so easily preventable. Condoms are still the most successful way to prevent contracting infections.

“Are young people just not scared of getting STDs anymore?”

And no matter how curable they are, diseases can evolve, as evidenced by the emergence of a strain of gonorrhoea, dubbed “super-gonorrhoea”, which doctors warn is untreatable. ‘Risking it’ could have far-reaching consequences for you, your partner and any future partners.

Is safe sex outdated? No. There are always risks in unprotected sex, and it is always important to protect yourself. Birth control has evolved tremendously, but it is much harder protecting against STDs. With how easy it is to get condoms and find other advice today, it’s so worth being careful. Nothing is worth playing fast and loose with your health.

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