A wellness-focused adult life doesn’t just include regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress relief. It also requires a knowledgeable approach to sex and intimacy. Since September is World Sexual Health Awareness Month, it offers a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of a healthy intimate life.
Here are the most important things you should know about sexual health, what it means in your life, and how to improve your own approach to intimacy.
It’s more than just STD prevention
While sexual health certainly encompasses education about, prevention of, and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases, there’s a lot more to it than just that. It also depends on recognizing the sexual rights and consent choices of others, communicating about health with partners and doctors, and the ability to fully enjoy sexual experiences.
Recognize where you’re falling short
The first step to improving your sexual health is recognizing signs that it might be suffering. You should be educated on signs and symptoms of STDs and STIs so you can do self-exams, but it’s also important to get regular checkups with a professional if you’re having casual sex.
On top of that, you should take notice of repeating issues that you face in the bedroom as they might be signs of sexual dysfunction. Common problems like impotency, short sex duration, or lack of interest can be signs of treatable dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. If you have these issues in about 25 percent of your sexual experiences, consider speaking with a healthcare provider in order to be diagnosed.
How to stay sexually healthy
- Use protection. Condoms aren’t just used to avoid pregnancy; they’re also meant to protect you and your partner from diseases. Latex condoms paired with personal washing before and after sex are the most effective ways to prevent STDs (other than abstinence).
- Get tested. Sexually-active men should be tested for several STDs such as syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea at least once a year. If you have multiple partners, however, you should be tested more frequently. You can be tested at several clinics or your doctor’s office, or you can use an at-home STD tester.
- Seek medical advice if you have questions. You should always check in with your doctor if you notice anything that’s of concern. They can diagnose sexual dysfunctions and prescribe a treatment depending on your needs. For premature ejaculation, for example, your doctor may prescribe a pill or recommend a sensitivity-altering topical spray to be used as needed to control your climax. Or, if you’re diagnosed with low libido, you may be encouraged to seek counseling from a therapist. It’s important that you refrain from self-diagnosing so you can get the most effective treatment possible.
- Get educated. There are lots of available resources to learn more about health, consent, and sexual rights. Check out some of these resources from the CDC and the American Sexual Health Association for more information and updated research.
Sexual health can be a daunting idea, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep yourself educated on new findings, and get regular check-ups in order to stay on top of your health.