Avoiding High-Risk Sexual Behaviors

Instructor: Amanda Robb
In this lesson, we'll cover what interactions are considered high-risk sexual behaviors. We'll look at some key examples that put people at a greater risk and how they can be avoided.

What Are High-Risk Sexual Behaviors?

Sex is a normal, healthy part of the human experience. Sex is different for everyone and there are many ways to engage in this enjoyable activity with a partner. However, there are risks involved in exposing yourself in such an intimate way. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancies, and unhealthy relationships can result from uninformed sexual choices. Today, we're going to look at ways to prevent these risks while still engaging in a healthy sex life.


There are many factors that put people at risk for high-risk sexual behavior, or any sexual act that could likely result in harm to the people involved. Anything that impairs judgement, such as drugs, alcohol, and even lack of education around healthy sexual behavior can lead to this type of risk.

Sexual Health and Education

The most important way to avoid high-risk sexual encounters is to be informed, which is probably why you're reading this. One of the biggest risks during sex is the transmission of STDs. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of the most dangerous STDs. It is spread by semen, vaginal fluids, and blood, resulting in an infection of the immune system. People with this disease slowly die from secondary infections, since their immune system can't fight off even basic illnesses, like the flu. This disease has no cure and results in a slow deterioration of the body. The way to prevent HIV and other STDs is through wearing condoms and getting tested for STDs regularly.

Condoms can help prevent the transmission of STDs and unwanted pregnancies

The best way to stay safe is to know your partner and have him or her get tested before having any type of sex. Even if you both have a clean bill of health, using a condom during vaginal sex is still important to preventing pregnancy. If you have a monogamous, long term relationship with your partner and you both are STD free, women can use hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy. However, hormonal birth control does not prevent the transmission of STDs, so it is imperative to get tested before abandoning condoms.

Birth control pills are one type of hormonal birth control which prevents pregnancy
birth control pills

Beyond basic protection like condoms, STD testing, and birth control, you can avoid some common pitfalls that lead to high risk sexual behavior as well. Let's look at those next.


Recreational drugs, such as ecstasy or MDMA, and alcohol impair judgement in all choices, not just sex. Taking MDMA heightens the experience of touch and people taking this drug find extreme pleasure in even the most basic experiences. Some painful stimuli even feel pleasurable. Perhaps as expected, the euphoric experience of this drug lends itself to increased sexual activity. People who are high might not fully understand the dangers of engaging in sexual activity with multiple partners, strangers, or may not use protection against STDs, such as condoms.

Drugs like MDMA can increase high risk sexual behavior
MDMA tablets

Alcohol is known for its loss of inhibition, usually resulting in poor choices. Abstaining from alcohol will allow you to make the best judgement call when considering a sexual encounter. Avoiding alcohol can help prevent the morning after regrets, and health risks, that come with poorly informed decisions at the bar or nightclub the night before. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol also increase the risk of sexual assault. Being unaware of one's surroundings, or even unconscious, can open opportunities for unsavory characters to take advantage of you.

Toasting beers at special events can be fun, but too many drinks can increase the risks during sexual activity

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