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Dr. H, Column Writer

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Dear Dr. H,

I really want to try unprotected sex with my boyfriend for the thrill. Neither of us have STIs so our only risk is pregnancy. Is it wrong to do something you know is stupid, even if you have Plan B (since that should be for emergencies)?

Dear student,

Whew. Kids will do just about anything for a thrill these days, huh? I’m going to go ahead and say it: This is a bad idea.
You ask if it’s “wrong to do something you know is stupid,” but having planned, unprotected sex is more than just a “whoops,” it’s just plain risky if you don’t actually want to get pregnant.
As someone whose job it is to minimize health risks, I advise against having unprotected sex just as I would advise against driving without a seatbelt. Yes, people have unprotected sex, and don’t get pregnant, just as people drive without a seatbelt and don’t die in a car crash.
But knowing these outcomes are risks for the behavior, I think we should find other ways to spice up our lives.
There’s no shame in wanting something thrilling and I’m sure you’re not even alone in this particular thrill sounding enticing.
While Plan B is very effective in reducing the chance of getting pregnant after unprotected sex, there is always a chance it won’t work—and then what?
If you really don’t want to get pregnant, I just don’t think the “thrill” is worth it. Why not get on hormonal birth control or an IUD and have all the condom-less sex you want with your STI-free partner? Why not role play having unprotected sex and talk through the fantasy “risk” of not using protection? Are there other ways of getting a thrill with your partner?
If it’s the “naughtiness” factor you find thrilling, surely there are other ways of achieving this that doesn’t have the potential health impact of an unintended pregnancy: new toys, different positions, other places to have sex, etc.
The danger with this particular thrill is that if you find yourself really enjoying it, long term use of Plan B is not recommended and you will likely get pregnant at some point with the more unprotected sex you have.

Can you exercise too much?

Dear Student,

Yes. You can indeed exercise too much. And in a body-obsessed culture where we put fitness gurus on a pedestal and praise people for their commitment to working out, knowing when enough is enough can be challenging.
Exercise is great to maintain healthy physical function, a healthy weight, reduce risk of chronic disease and boost your mood and energy, among others.
Too much exercise, however, can diminish performance, weaken the immune system and negatively impact our mental and social well-being. We need enough time in between workouts—and quality rest—to recover because exercise is stressful on our bodies.
If you’re wondering if you, or a friend of yours is exercising too much, ask yourself these questions:
Have you stopped seeing improvement in your work outs or stopped enjoying exercising?
Do you exercise when you’re sick or injured?
Do you feel guilty when you miss a workout?
Do you forgo other activities you generally enjoy because you don’t want to miss a workout?
Do you schedule your day around working out or exercising?
These are just a few potential red flags that could indicate an exercise compulsion. We are bombarded with messages in our daily lives that when it comes to exercise, more is better. If you really want to reap the benefits of exercise, however, moderation is indeed better.
A healthy relationship with exercise means that you enjoy doing it and don’t feel bad about yourself when you miss a workout. You work out because you want to, not because you have to.

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Ask Dr. H