Imagine yourself with a partner (or partners) who are making you feel wonderful. You are completely turned on. You are kissing, rubbing, caressing, breathing heavy. Your body says yes, your brain says yes, your voice says yes. You can’t get enough, you feel out of control and you like it.
Now imagine yourself thinking about safer sex, birth control, STIs or HIV in this moment. They may cross your mind; you may think about stopping. But be honest with yourself and realize there is a large possibility that you will continue without a condom or birth control.
So you keep going. Only after your breathing returns to normal do the consequences of your actions begin to resonate.
When in a state of arousal people are in no position to make important and potentially life changing decisions. Blood is flowing into the genitals, not into the brain. You may not consider deciding to wear a condom a life changing decision, but it will be if there is an unplanned pregnancy or you contract an STI or HIV.
So what can you do? You can prepare in advance when your brain is working to its full decision making potential.
Prepare by bringing multiple condoms with you when you go out, and having them readily available in your home. Take your birth control as recommended if you are using the pill, the patch, the ring or the shot. Have other forms of birth control on hand if you are using non-hormonal methods such as the sponge, the diaphragm or spermicides.
Know where you can buy emergency contraception (the morning after pill) and know you do not need to wait until the morning after to use it. Know what the three options are if there is a pregnancy (parenting, adoption, abortion) and know that it is the person who is pregnant who gets to choose the option. Think through your feelings on these options before there is a pregnancy and know that you can get an abortion in Waterloo Region. Know where you can get tested for STIs and HIV.
You do not need a prescription to get emergency contraception as you did in the past. You can buy it at the majority of pharmacies. Some people are buying it in advance and keeping it on hand in case they need it. It does not expire for many years if you store it in a cool dry place at room temperature, which makes buying it in advance a smart decision. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it is at preventing a pregnancy. Many people are also adding internal (female) condoms to their safer sex toolbox, as well as dental dams and gloves.
Now some people will say, “But I don’t sleep around and I’m not in a relationship.” That doesn’t matter. Things happen, people happen, drinks happen, parties happen. I have spoken with many people who tell me they had “not planned” for sex to happen. Trust me it does, sometimes when you least expect it. So remember, you may think arousal won’t make you stupid, but it does lessen your ability to make life-changing decisions.