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Do As We Say, Not As We Do: Reproductive Health Professionals Talk Unprotected Sex

“Do as I say, not as I do”— It’s a common saying among parents and older siblings. While the advice is appreciated — and almost always welcome! — at times this phrase can feel a bit patronizing.  And speaking as the oldest of three, my siblings are not shy about telling me they won’t listen to a thing I tell them.

In the current issue of Contraception, members of the Society of Family Planning (SFP) were asked about their experiences telling people to do things when they themselves may not have always listened to their own advice. In particular, they were asked (anonymously), about their experiences having unprotected sex.N77A3109

Even among the top family planning experts, their experiences with unprotected intercourse were fairly common — mainly when they were younger, but also with some experiences in the recent past. Over their lifetimes, 62 percent had unprotected sex at some point, and 7 percent had unprotected sex in the past year. The reasons for these instances were fairly aligned with what most of us think of as why people may have unprotected sex; being “swept away in the heat of the moment” or “too young to know better”.

Now, this isn’t meant to call out members of SFP for not practicing what they preach, but an acknowledgment that everyone is human. As reproductive health professionals, our own experiences are also important to remember when designing programs and interventions related to sex. We were all young once, and we’ve all gotten caught in the heat of the moment. Having the tools to make smarter choices during those moments are the kinds of interventions we should be focusing on, rather than programs that place unrealistic expectations or shame on people.

Read the full results and article here, and remember: no one’s perfect — even the experts.

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