What Are the Physical Risks of an Open Relationship? Part 2

A lot of what we learned in sexual education was fear based – fear of unintended pregnancy and fear of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). Our family, friends, and even the medical community often feed these fears. Healthy sexuality, alternative sexuality (such as polyamorous relationships, kinks and fetishes) or even sexual pleasure were rarely, if ever, discussed.

When we increase our number of sexual partners, by opening a monogamous relationship, or simply by participating in a non-monogamous relationship style, we need to know the real risks involved and make informed decisions. From this calm, rational place – one that is not based in fear, shame or ignorance – we can take the right precautions and have good, healthy conversations.

The two biggest fears with open relationships are unintended pregnancy and STI. We looked at STI’s in the last blog, Part 1. This time, we need to address the increased risk of pregnancy in open relationships.

Unintended Pregnancy in Open Relationships

With more sexual partners, there may be a greater chance for unintended pregnancy. If you are older, and have the family/number of children you want, you may have already made some permanent adjustments, such as a vasectomy or tubal ligation (often called “getting your tubes tied”). In many relationships where this is the case, only one of the partners undergoes sterilization. If the relationship is opened, a new discussion may be required to discuss a change in method of birth control, especially if the unsterilized partner will have an additional sexual partner(s).

Younger couples who may not yet have children, or don’t yet have all the children they would like, will need to consider how to prevent unintended pregnancy with their non-primary partners, if that is important.

In Polyamorous relationships, it’s an important topic to discuss about which, if any pregnancies would be encouraged or discouraged, and how any would be handled. Poly families who live together may decide to raise multiple children together, while others may want different financial, living, or decision-making choices.

In all cases, it is important to have proactive conversations while emotions are stable. Reactive conversations may need to happen as well, but overall, the main goal is to have communication about these potential risks and implications. If you and/or your partner brings in a new partner and all of a sudden there is a pregnancy, it is better to have discussed it upfront so it can be handled in the best way for everyone involved.

I don’t have specific answers for what to do, but you do need to have the conversations about the risks of an open relationship, including STI’s and unintended pregnancy. As anything in life, there will always be a risk, and a reward. Talk about the implications so you know what you want and don’t want to have happen in your non-monogamous relationships, in order to set them up for the best success.

If you’d like to talk more about open relationships, their various forms, and how to make them successful, I’d like to be a resource for you. If you want to learn more about healthy sexual expression, I invite you to read my book, and/or schedule a free consultation to discuss how I may be able to support your exploration and sexual journey.


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