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PrEPping for Safe Sex


This month’s blog will discuss the multiple ways to prevent STIs and HIV, as well as highlight Endometriosis Awareness Month!

Now of course, the only way to 100% prevent yourself from the risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancies is abstinence, or choosing to refrain from sex. But if you are still wanting to engage in sexual activities, there are still plenty of different ways to protect yourself against STIs and HIV.

Let’s talk about all the behaviors that put you at risk for contracting STIs and HIV. Listed below are all reported risky behaviors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that may put you at risk of contracting STIs or HIV:

  • Engaging in anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom

  • Having sex with multiple partners

  • Having anonymous sex partners

  • Having sex while under the influence of drugs that may lower your ability to think clearly when it comes to sexual decisions, overall leading to riskier sexual decisions

Besides the only 100% guaranteed method of protecting yourself against STIs and HIV, there are other ways you can be protected. Choosing less sexually risky activities, using a new condom correctly and consistently for every sexual act from start to finish, reducing the number of people you have sex with, and eliminating drug and alcohol use before engaging in sex are all ways to actively prevent yourself against STIs and HIV. Also, it is important to have conversations (even if they may be uncomfortable) with your partner prior to engaging in sexual activities with them. It is important that you and your partner are discussing whether you all have been tested recently for STIs and HIV. You also may want to talk with your healthcare provider to determine if pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a good option for you to prevent HIV.

In addition to preventing STIs and HIV, many people decide to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and do so by taking birth control. Although birth control is an effective method of preventing pregnancy, there are also many other benefits that come with different birth control methods. Everyone chooses their birth control method for various reasons, and may be interested in certain methods, like the hormonal IUD, for the hormone/period management benefits and not necessarily the 99% effective benefit.


March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and coincidentally, the hormonal IUD can help with the effects of it! As you may know, the intrauterine device, commonly known as the IUD, is a form of birth control that is inserted into the uterus through the cervical canal. There is a hormonal version, and a non-hormonal version of it that you can choose from. According to medicalnewstoday.com, there is a benefit of using the hormonal IUD if you suffer from endometriosis. The hormonal IUD releases the hormone progestin, which can reduce the severity of periods, lessening the pain felt, or even completely stop your periods from happening overall!

A Step Ahead Middle Tennessee has knowledgeable staff members who are eager to assist you in scheduling an appointment with a medical provider for a birth control consultation. Regardless of your insurance status, the visit will be completely free of charge! During the time of your consultation, you will be able to speak to your provider about the different birth control options, and decide which one suits you best! As long as you live in one of the 18 counties that we cover, the full cost of your LARC (Long-acting, reversible contraception) consultation, device, insertion, STI test, PAP test (if necessary), follow up, and removal will be covered by us!


If you are interested in exploring your birth control options, and need help with costs, or even with transportation to your appointment, give us a call at 615-671-7837 to get connected!

By: Nikayla Cobb

References:

1. Fletcher, Jenna. “IUD for Endometriosis: Benefits and Side Effects.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 19 Aug. 2019, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326092#how-it-works.

2. “STD Facts - HIV/AIDS & Stds.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Mar. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/std/hiv/stdfact-std-hiv.htm.

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