Last month was Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month (among other designations). Efforts were focused on reducing the number of teens facing unplanned pregnancies – a number that has declined significantly in recent years. This is a good thing, but focusing solely on pregnancy prevention, while overlooking other painful consequences of the misuse or too-early use of sex hurts young adults in the long run.
Typically pregnancy is only a possibility three to six days a month for the average female. But STDs – sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STIs) – can be acquired any day of any month that a guy or girl is sexually active. And the effects of STDs can be as life-altering as pregnancy, with no upside at all – unlike pregnancy, which results in people like you and me! Lighthouse offers free testing for the two bacterial STDs most commonly found in young adults.
Another often overlooked negative consequence is addiction to pornography. At first glance, pornography use might seem to offer a way to avoid both unwanted pregnancy and STDs. But that first glance leads to another, and another . . . and eventually your ability to connect with real people in healthy ways is crippled.
When we ask teens in high school classes to name some good things about sex, one common answer is, “It brings you closer to your partner.” Yes, it does – physically speaking, anyway. But the physical act of sex may not bring you closer emotionally, especially if you haven’t done the hard work of getting to know your partner, and being vulnerable so she or he knows you. Pornography never brings you closer to a real person. It actually puts distance – literally and figuratively – between you and your partner or future spouse. It may even create distance between you and your friends.
These negative consequences of pornography are connected to how our brains are wired for oneness. Neurochemicals like dopamine and vasopressin released in men during sex help bond them to their partners, and in particular, to who they are looking at during sex. If the “who” happens to be a fake image, and not a flesh and blood person, bonding still takes place – but not to a “real” partner. And the bonding and arousal processes at work are addictive – drawing the participant further away from real-life relationships, while creating unrealistic expectations for future partners.
New studies report that one out of every three men ages 18 to 25 are now experiencing some form of sexual dysfunction, due to porn consumption. Some of these young men may even lose interest in real life sexual relationships all together. 1
Of course, avoiding relationships with real people does prevent unplanned pregnancy. But fortunately, there are healthier and wiser ways to prevent unplanned pregnancies and STDS than pornography use. The plan that protects your body, your heart and your relationships with others, involves saving sex for the one partner you commit to for life.
1 Sexual dysfunctions among young men: prevalence and associated factors (2012). J z Health