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Safe Sex in America Today One hundred years ago sex was seen as an intimate action between wife and husband only. You were expected to get married young, have children, and stay with that man or woman "till death do you part. It was not acceptable to have more than one sexual partner. Divorce was not an option and cheating was seen as a sin. That is not the case anymore; today sex is seen as more casual. This is seen by the rise in the average sex partners in a lifetime. The average number of sexual partners for a male is seven, and four for a female. A shocking statistic is that twenty-nine percent of men in the United States report having fifteen or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, nine percent of women report having sex with fifteen or more men. (MSNBC, 2007, June) Sex is seen all over, in movies, commercials, ads, and magazines. As marketing companies say, "sex sells." There is even a safe sex awareness month, which is every April. However with the increase in sexual partners and the increase in sexual occurrences comes an increase in health risks and increase in unwanted pregnancies. Precautions need to be taken and safe sex education and regular testing should be stressed especially by health care professionals like nurses. Sex Can Be Rewarding Having sex can be rewarding and pleasurable. There are many good health effects of having sex. When you have sex endorphins get released into the blood stream, these endorphins can cause a state of euphoria. These endorphins that are released during an organism stimulate the immune system which can target cancer causing cells, and also cells that cause wrinkles. Endorphins also cause a reduction in pain due to oxytocin(BBC,

Safe Sex 2 Sex/Sexual Health- Enjoying Sex.). Sex also has been proven as a form of exercise which can lower the risk of heart attacks. This is true because sex uses every muscle group in the body and burns 300 calories an hour. More rewards of sex is lowering stress, a boost in immunity, a boost in self esteem, mood lifter, and better sleeping patterns (Fulbright, 2007). So according to Maslows hierarchy of needs three of the basic needs are meant through sexual activity. Although sex sounds like it is very beneficial the health risks need to be taken into consideration as well. Risks of Sex Through sex many body fluids can be exchanged like sperm, blood, breast milk, and vaginal fluid. The exchange of these fluids can increase the risk for disease, infection, and pregnancy. A STD is an illness that can be transmitted between humans by means of sexual contact. The sexual contact includes oral sex, anal sex, or vaginal intercourse. There are many sexually transmitted diseases like Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HPV, HIV/AIDS, and Genital warts. HIV/AIDS is a deadly disease with no treatment. Herpes is also a disease without a cure but it is not deadly. The other diseases can be treated if caught in the early stages. One million people are infected with STDs around the world every day of the year (BBC, Sex/Sexual Health- Enjoying Sex.). All of these diseases produce different symptoms and have a very negative effect on your health. The transmissions of these diseases are very serious and need to be treated with extreme precaution. Another risk of sex is unwanted pregnancy. Pregnancy happens when a male's sperm conjoins with a female's egg then nine months later a baby is born. Pregnancy can be a beautiful thing when you are ready for a baby, but when you are not it can be very unpleasant and stressful. The increase in sexual activity has also lead to an

Safe Sex 3 increase in teenage pregnancy. There is even a show on ABC about teenage pregnancy, the new hit show "The secret life of an American Teenager." Nursing interventions need to be taken to help prevent or reduce these risks. Prevention of Risks Due To Sex Unwanted pregnancy, Teenage pregnancy, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases are one hundred percent preventable. These risks are all one hundred percent preventable by abstinence. Although a reality is that not everyone will be abstinent actually ninety-six percent of United States adults are sexually active. This proves abstinent therefore is not a good method; other precautions need to be taken. These precautions are in forms of birth control. There are many forms of birth control that help reduce the risks of having sex. One form of birth control is the birth control pill or shot; these are 99% effective against pregnancy. There are also condoms, both male and female. They also reduce the risk of pregnancy and slightly reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. There are also forms of contraception that you can take if a condom breaks or you skip a pill, it is a form of Emergency Contraceptive called the Morning after Pill. This pill is taken up to three days after intercourse and keeps the woman from producing and releasing eggs and is only seventy-five percent effective against pregnancy. Someone who has sex very frequently would be said to be at risk for disease or pregnancy due to increased sexual activity. The most important intervention nurses can make is to educate people on the health risks of sexual activity, and also educate them in safe sex. A very good source of information to help educate you on safe sex is the CDCs website that explains the symptoms of each sexually transmitted disease. Many other programs have been used to help inform us of the risks of increases sexual

Safe Sex 4 partners and activities. Also sex education courses are now a mandatory in most high schools. Nurses are also very vital to the importance of sex education, and the education of safe sex practices. The first birth control clinic was actually opened in 1916 by Margret Sanger who was a nurse. The clinic offered counseling, birth control information and supplies to women. This clinic was controversial and shut down nine days later. (Margret Sanger, 1999, December) However today clinics do exist like Planned Parenthood which is a birth control center like that of Margret Sangers that offers counseling, birth control information, and supplies to men and women. You can also receive a STD test at these clinics. If you practice all these safe sex methods you can have a much safer sex life, prevent the spread of disease, prevent unwanted pregnancy and you can really enjoy all the benefits sex has to offer. Conclusion With the increasing number of sexual partners the sex education practices need to be increased. Nurses need to stress the importance of abstinence, and if you are not abstinent stress the importance of other birth control methods. Nurses should encourage people who are sexually active to be tested when sex partners change. The nurse has many roles like being an advocate, and care-giver but the best thing a nurse can do is educate the client. In a culture where sex is becoming more accepted and the number of partners is being increased, so is the risk for potential diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Some kind of intervention needs to be made, lets start here at us, the nurses.

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References BBC. Sex/Sexual Health- Enjoying Sex. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2009, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/relationships/sex_and_sexual_health/enjsex_safersex.shtml#top Fulbright, Yvonne K. (2007). FOX News. Retreieved March 18 from http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,317189,00.html Margret Sanger. (1999). Retrieved March 30, 2009, from http://www.nyu.edu/ projects/sanger/secure/aboutms/index.html MSNBC. New survey tells how much sex were having. (2007). Retrieved March 19, 2009, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19374216/

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