The (contraceptive) pill, taken on a daily basis by a woman, contains hormones that stop her ovaries producing eggs. A condom, worn by the man over his penis during intercourse, prevents semen entering the vagina. A woman can wear a rubber diaphragm over her cervix (neck of the uterus). A woman can also have a coil inserted by a doctor, which prevents sperm entering the uterus. The morning-after pill, which may prevent her getting pregnant, is taken by a woman the day after having unprotected intercourse.
For centuries only married women were encouraged to engage in intercourse. In the absence of reliable contraception, a woman inevitably becomes pregnant when she has regular intercourse. Abortion is an issue connected with the freedom women now share with men to be sexually active without the need for a supportive relationship that would allow them to raise the children resulting from their sexual activity. The contraceptive pill means women can have intercourse without risking pregnancy. But even the pill is not 100% effective (if a woman forgets to take it). When women become unintentionally pregnant, they are offered abortion as a solution.
Men are much less inclined to consider consequences than women in general. Men don’t necessarily feel that a woman’s pregnancy has anything to do with them. Semen is harmless while it’s inside a man’s body. It is only once semen enters a woman’s body that there is a problem. Women’s role is to bear children, so men assume a woman wants a child regardless of the circumstances. When a woman falls pregnant, it becomes her problem.
Men are not so easily identified or put in a situation where they have to take responsibility for the consequences of unprotected intercourse. A woman is easily identified as a mother. If the father is absent or unknown the shame falls on her and the child. Marriage laws exist to ensure that men accept responsibility for the consequences of sex. Even with the availability of reliable contraceptives, parents still protect daughters more than sons.
The pleasures of the flesh refer to the gratification a man obtains from intercourse. Their sex drive and regular arousal means that men view intercourse foremost as an erotic act, which they rarely connect with reproduction. Fathers appreciate that young women do not have the carnal instincts of young men. Most girls focus on love. Girls feel used after a one-night stand. For boys, a variety of lovers is part of the fun of sex. Lust arises from male arousal, which is a physical rather than an emotional response.
Sterilisation involves rendering a person infertile (incapable of reproducing). In a woman, the fallopian tubes are cut. This prevents an egg descending into the womb and being fertilised. In a man, the tubes from the testes are cut. This prevents sperm being added to his ejaculate. In either case the surgery is irreversible so it is a serious decision to make. Reproduction is about the creation of life. Conception is truly amazing. It’s also a responsibility. To bring a new life into the world, involves a great deal of work. Many people feel that abortion is morally wrong. Religious beliefs about conception attribute a soul to a zygote just a few seconds old.
Unwanted pregnancies are common. Even though it takes two people to make a child, women are held responsible for a child’s daily care. Women are typically held responsible for abortion. Even rape is not considered sufficient reason for a woman to have an abortion in some cultures. Abortion laws vary considerably between countries. A woman often needs both the father’s and a doctor’s consent. Most European countries give a woman the unconditional right to abortion within the first 15 weeks. Shame and fear of reprisal cause women to delay getting help when they fall pregnant. Others are ignorant of the symptoms of pregnancy or the cause.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are transferred between people when there is sexual activity involving body fluids. The more partners a person has (the more promiscuous they are) the more likely they are to catch one of these diseases. Treatments are available but some diseases are incurable as well as extremely inconvenient and painful for the person who has them. AIDS is usually fatal. Drug-users are also vulnerable to catching AIDS. Anyone who contracts these conditions (including prostitutes) must always ensure that condoms are used to prevent the disease spreading further.
The vagina (like the mouth) is a warm and moist place that easily attracts fungal infections such as thrush. Thrush causes an itchy feeling within the vagina. Women may assume that these infections arise because they have done something improper. This is unlikely. Women are advised to wash themselves between the legs thoroughly at least once a day and preferably after defecating. Cystitis, an infection of the bladder, causes a stinging feeling in the bladder and is often accompanied by urgent sense of needing to urinate. Medication can alleviate symptoms and eliminate the infection.
… no matter what she says, how much she likes sex and all that jazz, if she is literally being penetrated by you … then her emotional and mental well-being will always be involved as well. Always. (Alice Carter 2014)