“Navratri allowed the rare opportunity to meet people from the opposite sex,” Dr Sulbha Arora

Navratri is here full-blown and we couldn’t be more excited. However, the festival, for the past few years have been associated with promiscuity among youngsters and we wonder what makes this festival of dance and merry have this unique side to it! Is there more than just the freedom that comes with staying out late at night? If yes, what measures should one take to stay safe? How does one take care of oneself later? To get our answers, we head out to one of the most prominent fertility expert, Dr Sulbha Arora, who is currently Clinical Director in Nova IVI Fertility who gives us an insight into the naughty reputation of Navratri.

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Dr Sulbha Arora

In your career, have you seen this trend? Is it true that Navratri brings a bit of naughty side in youngsters?

We used to see this trend some years back, where there was an increased incidence of youngsters of opposite genders interacting more with each other during the Navratri week. This often led to them getting intimate with each other as well, more than they would have the rest of the year.

Why so?

Adolescents had less exposure earlier than they do now. Their deadlines for going out and partying were stricter. Navratri allowed them the rare and much-awaited opportunity to get dressed up, go out and meet people from the opposite sex. It gave them a valid reason to stay out longer than their usual curfew hours. Activities such as group exercises, dancing and laughing are known to increase the release of endorphins – the brain’s ‘feel-good chemicals’. All in all, this festive, charged up, an enthusiastic atmosphere would lead to increase in physical attraction and intimacy as well.

Nowadays, youngsters have more exposure and more chances of interacting with potential partners all year long. Lifestyle changes have come a long way, and now the difference between sexual activity during Navratri or during the rest of the year is not as marked as it used to be earlier.

How does one make sure one is safe?

Whether during Navratri or otherwise, certain safety measures must be borne in mind at all times. Avoid accepting drinks from strangers, as they may be spiked with sedating or hypnotising drugs. If going to a washroom in a public place, avoid going alone and make sure you are accompanied by a friend. Even when the incidents are consensual, sometimes they are unplanned. The boy may not have anticipated this and may not have carried a condom with him. There is no harm in the girl being prepared and carrying one with her when she steps out. Even if the boy does not ejaculate inside, penetration itself can spread STDs, and pre-ejaculate may contain sperms as well. A barrier contraceptive is the safest and most ideal precaution, and must always be used.

If the barrier was not available at the time or was not used, the girl must contact a gynaecologist as soon as possible within the next 24 hours, and take an emergency contraceptive pill, such as the i-pill. These are available over the counter also, however ideally must not be taken more than once in a given menstrual cycle. If sexual relations are anticipated more frequently, it is better to take a regular daily contraceptive pill rather than the emergency pill. Lastly, it is important to note that the pills may have hormonal side effects and also, will prevent only a pregnancy but not the transmission of infections. Therefore barrier contraceptives are preferable to pills for such cases.

Keep a record of your period dates so you know if there is a delay, and contact your gynaecologist immediately if you miss the next period. Early pregnancies can be terminated with tablets and the need for a surgical D&C may not arise if action is taken soon enough.

Is this rampant in Mumbai as well?

In certain sects of society who do not have much opportunity to mingle and socialise the rest of the year.

Have you come across cases where people have regretted their actions. What advice do you give?

I do come across cases of women complaining of side effects such as irregular periods and spotting after taking an emergency pill. In most cases, reassurance is all that is required. I advise them to switch to a regular pill if intercourse is going to be more frequent. I usually do not come across women regretting the sexual act or even a pregnancy if that takes place because women are more aware now and more comfortable with their sexuality. They are more confident and have shaken off the shackles of morality that used to bind them alone and not the men. Most women today will regret an act of sex or an unplanned pregnancy only about as much as a man will. My advice to them in such cases is only to be more careful the next time round and not think of medical terminations of pregnancy as an acceptable substitute for regular contraception.

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