Counting on contraceptives to protect us while engaging in casual sex is like wearing a motorcycle helmet so we can keep playing in traffic. It’s a false sense of security.
Casual sex—which we’ll define here as sex apart from a committed, permanent relationship—comes with multiple risks. Some risks are more obvious, like unwanted pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Other risks are more subtle, like emotional fallout, damage to future relationships, and potential impacts on having children when we want to.
Take a minute to think about these risks about how contraceptives stack up against them.
“I Don’t Have to be Careful”
Many people use contraceptives (birth control pills, IUDs, condoms, etc.) as if they were fail-safe body armor. But believing the myth of “safe sex” is naïve.
According to the CDC, contraceptives fail their users on several levels.
- None of them are 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. See the CDC’s findings here.
- They require proper use to be effective. In “the heat of the moment” that may not happen.
- Many forms of contraception offer no protection against STIs.
In addition to these physical limitations, contraceptive have other kinds of limits as well.
- There is no condom for your heart. We want sex to bring a sense of love, belonging, and joy. But casual sex can break our hearts, leaving us (and our partners) feeling used and disappointed.
- Contraceptives can’t protect our minds. Sex releases a rush of the brain chemical oxytocin, which gives us feelings of intimacy and trust. Giving sex away to one person after another deadens this response in our brains, making it harder to deeply connect in loving, lasting relationships.
Like the motorcycle helmet example, contraceptives are only partially protective. Your helmet may help prevent major head trauma, but it can’t protect your chest, back, arms, and legs—and it’s useless if you don’t have it strapped on right. In the same way contraceptives only work against some of the risks of sexual activity—and only if used correctly.
“Isn’t This How I Avoid Needing an Abortion?”
When we justify using contraceptives as a way to avoid having an abortion, we are on shaky ground. Some evidence suggests that contraceptives (esp. birth control pills) actually work as early abortifacients, by giving a fertilized egg (after conception) no way to thrive in the womb. However, no matter how contraceptives work, the fact remains that counting on them to prevent a pregnancy we don’t want is unwise, as we’ve shown in the paragraphs above. Contraceptives simply can’t promise we’ll be pregnancy-free if we remain sexually active.
“Having Sex is Normal; I Just Don’t Want to be Pregnant”
Our desire for sex—like our desire for food—is indeed a normal part of being human. But should every desire we feel be indulged unconditionally? I might want to eat a whole tub of ice cream in one sitting, but would that be best for me? Probably not. In the same way, just having sexual desires doesn’t mean we need to indulge them at any time, in any way. Indulging our desires opens us up to the consequences of that choice. When we let our desires rule us, we lose control of our lives.
By contrast, the person who chooses to exert their power of self-control, who channels all their desire for sex into one permanent, committed relationship, protects themselves from the whole range of risk factors that come with casual sex.
Let’s face it: Contraceptives cannot deliver the whole-person protection you need. So it’s wise to remember this ultimate truth:
You alone are in charge of your sexual activity and all its consequences.
Choose self-control and enjoy its rich benefits.
If you are tired of letting your desires rule you—instead of the other way around—talk with us about Life Coaching. We love nothing better than seeing women and men take charge of their lives and get where they really want to be.
Contact us today to get started.