Most of us have had the whole “birds and the bees” talk, and most of us have also been told about the importance of safe sex. What I’m learning as I get older however, is that there are a lot of people who completely disregard the warnings and risk factors involved partaking in unprotected sex due to either a careless lifestyle, or because they see themselves as untouchable due to new advances in modern medicine, such as the prescription medication PrEP.

Now, I’m far from a prude when it comes to the topic of sex, and I’m also not writing this to shame anyone. Instead, I feel the need to openly voice some of my own personal concerns as it relates to the general public, and especially people in my age group, who can be a bit careless or reckless when it comes to their sexual escapades.

Being a gay male and having been on “dating” apps like Grindr and Scruff, I noticed an influx in men who were looking for bareback sex. The idea of having unprotected sex with a stranger, or anyone for that matter, has always been something that I’ve never really been open to as I want to stay free of all STDs, but it’s everyone’s prerogative to do as they please. My concern with this is that there are men who are still irresponsibly going about having their fun. PrEP is supposed to be used in conjunction with condoms in order to significantly reduce the risk of HIV and other STD/STIs, and yet there are a decent amount of men who get on PrEP, and see it as an opportunity to have unprotected sex with whoever they want. In reality, this isn’t a smart decision as there are plenty of other STD/STIs that can be contracted through unprotected sex, and even with the advances in science and medicine, some of them still aren’t curable.

A common complaint for a lot of men, whether gay, straight, or bi, is that condoms take away some (or a lot) of the pleasure for them during penetration, so they prefer to abstain from condom usage. While it’s understandable that the maximum amount of pleasure is desired during sex, it still doesn’t justify having unprotected sex, especially if you and your sexual partner(s) aren’t getting tested regularly. Besides, is a 20 to 30 min (I’m being generous with that time frame for some men out there) sex session worth contracting something that could end up causing you pain, discomfort, and potentially lifelong unpleasant symptoms?

Not only are STDs a significant risk factor in unprotected sex, but so is unplanned pregnancy for women. There have been countless situations of women having a night out or going on a date and deciding to end the night with some sensual fun, which is their right if they see fit, and a few weeks later, they find out that they’re pregnant. Bringing a baby into the world when you plan it is already a stressful situation, but finding out that you’re pregnant when you had no plans on having a baby is even more of a weight to carry. Being as though I’m very pro-choice in terms of abortion, I believe that it’s a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy should she see fit, but this could all be potentially avoided with safer sex practices.

Of course, condoms aren’t perfect and can sometimes break or be ineffective due to improper use, but taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself beforehand greatly reduces risks and can provide a peace of mind after the deed is done.

All in all, sex can still be incredibly enjoyable when using protection, and you’re significantly cutting down the risks of contracting something that could completely alter your life as you know it. While going in without protection may be a little more pleasurable for the moments that you’re intimate with someone else, you should always be thinking about the possibility of the rest of your life changing in a way that you don’t want it to change, all for some momentary heightened pleasure.

Take to the comments below to share your thoughts on safe sex in this day and age.