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Davis, California

Monday, June 24, 2024

Column: Protect yourself

Sex Ed

I don’t know about you, but I love to spend my evenings reading my old sex advice columns. While doing so, I had one of those moments where my brain goes, “bad sex columnist, no biscuit!” You see, I realized that in the past I never devoted more than a few sentences to protection and birth control. So, in penance, I will be doing a two-part special on contraception.

Let’s begin by examining one of those debates that’s always trotted out in the “love and sex” forums of online magazines: who is responsible for bringing the contraception to the party?

For me this question, like so many things in life, depends on context. Now, I want to caveat that by saying that unless you’re trying to make a baby, you need contraception. And, unless you and your partner(s) are 100 percent sure that you’re all STI-free, that contraception should include a barrier method (such as a condom).

If you’re in a situation where you meet new sexual partners frequently, I’d make sure that you have your protection of choice with you whenever you seek out sexy times. If everyone follows this approach, it means that when you meet up with a like-minded partner, you’ll both be prepared. And, even if they’re not, you will be.

If you need an added incentive to follow this advice, consider the fact that if you get into a sexy situation and no one has protection, it’s going to limit your options for the evening. So it’s better to be on the safe side. And, should you not believe that to be true, let me add that they’ve recently discovered an antibiotic resistant strain of gonorrhea. Just saying.

If, on the other hand, you’re in a longer-term sexual relationship, it’s a good idea to discuss how you’re going to acquire and pay for protection. For instance, if someone in the relationship is using hormonal birth control (like the pill), the other partner may offer to help cover the cost. Or, maybe you have an arrangement where one person is in charge of making sure there’s always condoms and the other makes sure there’s always lube. The specifics of this are really up to the people involved, but it’s good to have them in place just so you don’t get all hot and heavy only to go, “shit, we’re out of dental dams.”

Before we move on to the various ways you can acquire your contraceptive of choice, I want to address a comment I can hear some of you making. This comment sounds something like, “but, like, talking about protection is just super awkward, plus it, like, totally kills the moment and if I break the aura of suavity and mystery I’ve created, no one will ever sleep with me.”

My immediate response to is to bang my head repeatedly on the nearest flat surface. However, my real and useful response is to reiterate an idea that I’ve said so many times, both here and in other places, that I ought to get it tattooed: An awkward moment now is better than an unhappy one later. As with consent, if talking about something as important as protecting yourself and the person you’re with ruins the moment, then that moment wasn’t worth much in the first place.

Getting back to the topic of contraception acquisition, you have quite a few options on campus alone. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Love Lab (LL). I mean, it has its own Facebook page. In addition to charging a whopping $0 for 10 condoms, the Love Lab’s variety of offerings means that you have plenty of chances to experiment and find the style of condom that you and your partner like best. Plus, the LL also offers latex-free and insertive (aka female) condoms and dental dams.

Love Lab love letter aside, you can also get condoms from the Student Health and Wellness Center pharmacy (generally 10 for $1.50). And pretty much any drug store (and many grocery stores) will carry some condoms and safe sex supplies. To find one near you, check out HEP’s condom map. If your interest is in hormonal birth control, I suggest starting your quest at the Student Health and Wellness center. That, and that you check out next week’s column.

SAM WALL wants you to send your sex questions to sewall@ucdavis.edu.


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