By Bunmi Sofola
They’ve read the manuals, heard the warnings in the media and may even have found the courage to buy some condoms, but when making love for the first time, quite an alarming number of young men and women ignore everything they have learned and simply trust to luck.
In spite of being bombarded with everything they could wish to know about sex, they feel too embarrassed to talk openly to their partner. Even the most enlightened couples have troubled as they see a lot of the language surrounding sex as either too obscene or too clinical to use to a prospective lover.
“Neither partner wants to be the first to bring up the subject of contraception directly for fear of rejection or being thought too pushy,” explains a psychologist in one of the teaching hospitals. “Even the dynamic career women who have no qualms about straight talking in the boardroom, become tongue-tied in the bedroom. They will say things like, ‘I think everyone should use a condom,’ but they don’t lie in bed and discuss what method of contraception is going to be used.
Based on disclosure from youths I’ve interacted with, youngsters between the ages of 17 and 25 who talked candidly about their attitudes to sex, over 50 per cent of them had had sexual intercourse.
Three-quarters of these used contraception the first time they went to bed with a new partner. Half of those said they used condoms and the other either relied on the woman being on the pill or used riskier methods such as withdrawal. But even those sensible enough to use precautions were often bashful to discuss it at first. “We found the reason condoms were used was often because the man just produced one automatically.
Quite a lot of men did it on their own initiative because women don’t talk about it and hope the men will take precautions. The men thought that was what they should do. But as soon as a relationship is established, women switch to the pill, forgetting that condoms help to protect them from cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases—the girls’ real fear is pregnancy. They are aware of other things but they don’t think it happens to them or that there could be anything wrong with their partner.”
This apparent complacency, says the psychologist, stems partly from the fact that most people go to bed with someone they know—however remotely. “It may be someone they know from the office, a friend of their brother’s or someone they have talked to at the bus stop.
When it’s only a one-night stand, the man assumes the woman wouldn’t have sex unless she was on the pill while she assumes he must know what he’s doing or he wouldn’t be doing it. In the end, they often don’t take any precautions at all which leads to problems with sexually transmitted diseases. There’s also the sad fact that there is a high incidence of pregnancy with first-time sex.
“By the time women reach their mid-20s, they become more assertive about ontraception, although there are few brave enough to send their partner to the local chemist for condoms. There are women who say no, but equally there is a strong feeling the condoms aren’t an attractive form of contraception. Women only take to it the first time if they are older or more experienced, but after the first few times it becomes more natural for her to take the initiative.
“The good news for women is that an increasing number are discovering new men between the sheets. Many men said they did not like the pressure on them to lure their new girlfriend into bed immediately and some of them were very sensitive.
They were bothered about the reactions of their partners. It is no longer a case of the predatory male and the reluctant female of popular belief. My advice to those who find that sex leaves them tongue-tied is to be prepared and do something instead. If young people cannot bring themselves to say anything, they should do something practical and consider carrying condoms themselves.
From the social scene to the bedroom, the mating ritual is played out in a series of subtle, sensual games. “And no matter how romantically seduction is displayed on cinema screen and in glossy paperbacks, in real life, the first kiss is more likely to be in the back of a taxi than under a moonlit sky,” says the expert. “It’s much more a case of asking someone, they fancy if they want a drink at any dub or eatery. Whichever they decide, there will be some move away from the main group. One of them will buy the other a drink and then sit next to them and they will single themselves out physically as a couple.
“This is followed by saying, ‘I live the same way as you, shall we go home together?’ And perhaps asking them in for yet another drink. It’s very hackneyed really and if it’s a deduction, it’s terribly slow. The same pattern emerges when they are alone and sex becomes a possibility. He will ask her to move from one place to another. He might say ‘come and sit on the sofa’ and then put his arm around her. Even then, today’s liberated teenagers still have ‘how far can we go’ rules.
Six steps to safe sex
Sex is one of the most beautiful and natural things in the world, yet its unwanted consequences can lead to heartache and misery—even death. Readers have asked from time to time to have something their growing children could benefit from. That’s why I’ve given the psychologists findings full reign! She concluded that by taking the right precautions and following these six simple rules you can enjoy a loving, passionate relationship without fearing what the future might hold.
- Never assume that because you know your partner well, they are bound to be safe.
- Don’t just wait and see what happens—try to think through what you want the result to be.
- When you have made your decision, think long and hard about the possible consequences.
- Talk openly about contraception—if you don’t say anything, It may be assumed you are happy to go ahead and that you are on the pill.
- Don’t put off discussing things. The later you leave it, the harder it will be to avoid getting carried away.
- And don’t worry about looking silly— do what’s right for you.
Quick fixes for bedroom injuries
Sex is one sport that is guaranteed to cause all kinds of cuts, bruises and cramps if you are good at it, that is! Here are some medical advice on what to do when you’re caught in the clinch—so to speak!
Bite wounds: Human bites can be hard to treat as the average mouth has so many bacteria. Wash it thoroughly and look for redness, swelling or discharge.
If you see these signs or come down with a fever, see a doctor for antibiotics.
Fingernails marks: As long as the skin’s not broken, moisturizer should clear them up in a day or so. If she clawed you until you bleed, it means two things: you need to apply savlon, and you’re doing something right!
Sore penis: Getting it may have been fun, but a raw penis should be treated and just like any other abrasion injury—use moisturizing lotion (try the ones for sensitive skin) to help speed up healing. And difficult as it may be: stop rubbing it for a few days.
Injured testicle: A sharp knee between the legs is certainly a passion killer, but the chances are the pain and nausea will only last a few minutes. Applying ice or frozen peas can ease swelling and pain, but wrap them in a towel to avoid direct contact which can irritate or ‘burn’ the sensitive skin in this area (whether she offers a helping hand or makes a sharp exit at this juncture is also a good relationship tester). If there is swelling or discolouration, see a doctor as internal bleeding can lead to infertility. Ask her to be more careful next time!
Leg cramp: Your legs, the power behind those thrusts—are your most likely source of cramp during sex. Attacks can ruin that magical moment and they are probably caused by dehydration. If you know her well enough, stop and stretch the muscle until the cramp eases. To avoid it next time, drink a glass or two of water during that pre-coital banquet.