Over the past week, life has thrown a lot of sucky things my way. Midterms, stress, the flu … none of it has been very happy. And the worse my life gets, the more I think about the bad side of everything – even the good things in life.

Sex, for instance, is not all orgasms and hard nipples. There are times when it and the aftermath are just horrible. Thus, thanks to my infinite angst and a few conversations around the office, here’s a list of what sucks about sex and, where applicable, what you can do about it:

First, there are the basic bads, such as the monthly pregnancy panic. Back in the glorious days of virginity, that monthly blood flow was something to be cursed and hated. Being a little late could be bliss. After sex, though, when you’re a day late, you find yourself rushing to the drug store to pay $16 for a pregnancy test. It doesn’t matter that you wore a condom and were on the birth control pill; nothing is 100 percent sure.

More basic badness, which we learned back in middle school, are the STDs, which are pests to both sexes: herpes and gonorrhea and genital warts, oh my! Even with protection, you’re still open to those wonderful little parasites, like pubic lice and scabies.

Luckily, many things are curable with a little penicillin or a good poison bath, but if you get the tricky diseases, you’re stuck for life. Be sure to get yourself checked regularly, especially after you’ve been with someone new. You never know where he’s been sticking his dick, or who’s been tapping her hole. And if something unexpected pops up, ask a doctor about it. Catching things early on is the best way to keep them under control.

Even in the middle of the action, there are problems. Performance anxiety, especially with someone new, on the part of both guys and girls, can turn off everything right when it’s getting good. It can make the experience miserable and can ruin sex for the next time around.

Over overperforming can have its problems, too. Go too fast, and she won’t enjoy it. Pay too much attention to an erogenous zone, and you could kill its sensitivity. So go slow, and don’t try so hard. Sex is better when you relax, at any rate.

And then, there’s the afterwards. The mess dripping down your legs. Who gets to sleep in the wet spot? Is there pillow talk, or does he just fall asleep while she sits awake bored to death?

Messes, though, can be kept under control with a handy towel reserved for such cleansing purposes. As for pillow talk … guys, making the effort to at least stay awake five extra minutes can help make your special female someone feel better. Girls, try to understand that sex wears a guy out; if he falls asleep, it’s not you, it’s him.

For women at least, the problems don’t always stop the next morning. Too vigorous of a session, or even just the unfamiliarity of a new penis, can trigger a urinary tract infection. It’s honestly not very fun to constantly feel like you have to go to the bathroom.

A series of antibiotics, involving a trip to the general medicine clinic, can solve the problem when you encounter it, but there are preventive measures that everyone, especially those who know they are susceptible to UTIs, can take. If you have an out-of-town boyfriend, try and drink lots of cranberry juice and take vitamin C, just before and while you’re seeing him, if you can plan ahead like that. And after sex, make a run for the potty while your man’s passed out next to you, and go again in the morning, even if you don’t really feel like you have to; this will flush what bacteria did get through out of your system.

Sex isn’t all fun and games. It can suck, and there are times when you really wish you’d never started the whole business.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you take care of yourself, are responsive to your partner’s own desires, and remember to take a little care when venturing into this explosive adventure, the experience can be worth a million pesky little problems.

Daily Nexus opinion editor Sarah Kent is a pessimist this week, but she likes sex, really she does. E-mail her your sex questions, comments and ideas at <opinion@dailynexus.com>.