Sex without a condom – what you need to know
Many people find that having sex without a condom is a more enjoyable and pleasurable experience. Some people may also have latex allergies which mean that using a condom is not an option. In this blog, we discuss the risks and considerations that you should take into account before having sex without a condom.
What are the risks of having sex without a condom?
There are two main risks that come with having sex without using a condom.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Condoms are the single most effective way of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections during oral, anal or vaginal sex. Although they don’t prevent all STDs, they can prevent the majority, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis. If you have sex without using a condom then you are at a much greater risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection.
Having penetrative vaginal sex without a condom could lead to unwanted pregnancy if it’s the only form of contraception that you’re using. It could also lead to pregnancy if you miss taking your contraceptive pill for two consecutive days leading up to the encounter. If you’re not currently using any form of contraception then you should always use a condom to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Considerations before having sex without a condom?
You may want to explore having sex without a condom if it’s something that both you and your partner are ready for. It’s important that you discuss this together openly and it’s a decision that you take together. There are some things that you should consider before taking this decision.
Make sure that you’ve both been tested
If you’re having sex with someone without using a condom you should always ensure that both you and your partner take an STD test first. This is the only way of knowing for sure that both you and your partner don’t have any STDs that you can pass on to each other. It’s important that you’re open and honest about this at the start of any relationship to prevent you passing an STD on to your partner, causing an even more awkward situation.
To prevent the spread of all STDs during sex without a condom then you’ll want to make sure that you have a comprehensive test that checks for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV, herpes and trichomonas. Your Sexual Health has a Premium Profile test that checks for all of these conditions and is accurate from 28 days following exposure.
One night stands
Never have sex with someone you don’t know without using a condom as you’re unable to know whether they’ve been tested prior to the sexual encounter. If you don’t know them that well then they might not be honest with you when they say that they’re all clear.
Before deciding to have sex without a condom you should ensure that you have alternative contraception in place to avoid unwanted pregnancy. There are many different forms of contraception so it’s important to discuss the options and decide on the best one for you. You can visit an NHS contraception clinic or sexual health clinic to discuss contraceptive options.
Don’t feel pressured
Having sex without a condom is a decision that both you and your partner should take seriously and you should always talk about it first. It’s important that you are both ready to have sex without a condom before doing so and that you don’t feel pressured into it. Ensure that you’ve had time to think about the considerations above as rushing into this can lead to much more stress, anxiety and worry down the line.
I’ve had sex without a condom, what should I do?
Having sex without using a condom might not always turn out to be the correct decision. In some situations for women, it may not have been by your own choice. From a sexual health point of view it’s important that you take decisive action as soon as possible after the event, whilst trying not to worry too much about the situation.
Sexually transmitted infections are often invisible and may not present easily recognisable symptoms when you have sex with someone. STDs are always a risk when you have sex without a condom, particularly if both you or your partner haven’t been tested since your last sexual encounter.
In these instances you should always take an STD test after having unprotected sex. Many STD tests will offer accurate results from 14 days post exposure and for the majority of STDs you’ll be able to receive simple and effective treatment. The longer that you live with an STD without receiving treatment the bigger impact this could have on your long term reproductive health.
To find out more about how long you need to wait before being tested for an STD, read our recent blog: How Long After Sex Should You Test For STDs?
If you are specifically worried about the risk of HIV then you should visit a sexual health clinic as soon as possible. They will be able to determine the HIV risk status and may be able to offer you PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) which can stop HIV in it’s tracks in the first 72 hours post exposure.
Unplanned pregnancy is always possible if you have sex without a condom and you’re not on any other form of contraception. Pregnancy is also possible if you’ve missed taking your contraception or forgot to take it on time in the days leading up to your unprotected sexual encounter.
If you’re worried about unplanned pregnancy following a sexual encounter where you didn’t use a condom then you should seek out emergency contraception as soon as possible. There are two forms of emergency contraception, including the emergency contraception pill, also known as the morning after pill. These are more effective the sooner that you take them from 12 hours to 5 days following sex.
You can pick up emergency contraception easily from a number of places, including pharmacists, GP surgeries, NHS walk-in centres and many NHS GUM clinics. These are available free on the NHS or you may have to pay depending on your circumstances.