Scared of Sex: When Safety Isn’t Enough

Paranoia will destroy ya. Just ask my growing sense of sexual frustration and my seriously nubby fingernails. At times, I’ve even become so scared of the possible outcomes of having sex, being safer simply isn’t enough reassurance. In turn, this sexually-induced anxiety made me turn to extended periods of intentional abstinence.

Like many others, I’ve fallen prey to the risks versus rewards way of thinking about sex. Oh, the ramifications! As if unintentional pregnancy isn’t enough to contend with– out rolls the contagious diseases and infection train. Choo choo! All abhorred!


Maybe you’ve caught and/or transmitted some icky bacteria, fungus, viruses or parasites in the past, or you are close to someone with a lifelong STI. Either way, the embarrassment, shame and sometimes irreversible reproductive health damage attached to STIs is all too real.

Since working at the Condom Depot Learning Center, my inner hypochondriac has had many an opportunity to run wild. Contagious cancer, Alzheimer’s, Lyme disease, shigella… frankly the list of fairly common but ne’er discussed transmittable ailments seems far too long. Eek! Germaphobia!

But, through my research from reputable science journals, health clinics and government organizations, all of these side effects of unsafe sex are completely true and really do happen to people. Like, a lot. Like, a lot a lot. More than you ever would have thought.

Perhaps taking the official STD treatment course, provided by the CDC and required for physicians, in my spare time wasn’t such a great idea after all. Check on the amount of new sexually transmitted diseases reported to the CDC last year in your area using this interactive STD atlas.

For those single folks and those who are in non-monogamous relationships, the idea that sex can spread not only the normal STDs and STIs, but other equally sinister outcomes (like Ebola) as well, is simply terrifying.

It’s enough to make me shun real human touch and stick to good old-fashioned masturbation, phone sex, cybersex and sexting for months on end. Eager to break the dry speak, yes, but almost equally as afraid as I am lusty, like an overly-suspicious horndog.

Masturbation is like procrastination. It feels good at first, but in the end you realize you’re only screwing yourself.”

When sex is swirling in the mind and loins and your gut reaction is fear and shaking in your shoes, clearly an emotional issue needs to be address. Even manual sex seems risky, and I find myself slyly examining dates’ knuckles for open wounds.

 “I’m a hyper-hypo.”

I’m a hyper gal– both hyperactive and hypersexual. Mix these elements together with a not-so-healthy dose of hypochondria, and suddenly everything I want to do seems like a really bad idea.

This is more compounded by the fact that I’m off of hormonal contraception, prefer penis sizes outside the range of FDA approved condom sizes, and I have yet to find a doctor who will give me the HPV vaccine because I’m a (gasp) thirty-something.

I was finally about to bite the bullet and allow myself to (finally) get laid, very safely. All the proper testing, measuring for proper condom size, consent and pre-touching conversations were under our respective belts. We made arrangements for me to fly over and meet.

In an effort to protect myself against any possible stealthing or shortage of correctly-fitting condoms being available during Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale, I traveled with my own bag o’ Magnum Thin tricks, thank you very much! Some travel-sized Blossom Organics, Pjur BodyGlide singles and an FC2 were also thrown in for good measure.


Constantly reassuring myself that all precautions were taken on the short drive from the airport to the you-know-you-want-some-nookie Homewood Suites, I looked up and there it was: a red, towering, holographic billboard with only one bold, bright yellow word written across it in all caps, towering above the overpass, “SYPHILIS.”

I just can’t escape the risks of sex, even in the midst of a whirlwind romance with a dapper chap at a far away locale. Nor can I avoid it in my home life, it seems.

Neighbors stop by after work while I’m cooking dinner to get my advice on whether they have HSV-1 or a canker sore, cousins of friends question me about the amount of calories in a load of cum while I’m swimming at the beach, drunken mothers cling to my shirt sleeve and slur on and on about their sons’ loss of virginity and concerns about becoming a young grandmother.

Did I end up going through with it? Yes. Many times. Any doubts or regrets? Of course. But, the fact is, sex is a gamble, and all I can do is place a smart bet on a winning hand and hope for the best. And, by Jove, am I happy to have a clean bill of health and to have started my period. Whew!

About Condom Depot

The Condom Depot Learning Center provides free safer sex ed and has recently been resourced by Men's Health, Go Ask Alice, Her Campus, LifeHacker, Scarleteen, Bustle, Madame Noire, Jezebel, Vice, Stallion Style, aPlus, Sex Talk Tuesday and Adult Sex Ed Month.


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