Sex education isn’t just for high school health class anymore. There are a surprising number of adults who know very little about their sexual health. Just because we are old enough to know better, doesn’t always mean that we do. Check out the following tips to keep your sexual life healthy and safe.
1. The Truth about HPV
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that is getting the most attention these days, probably due to the fact that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that it is the most common STI and almost all sexually active men and women will get it at some point in their lives. Here are some facts to help you learn all you need to know about this STI:
HPV is spread through skin to skin contact, often
during vaginal and anal sex, but it can also be spread during genital to
genital contact or oral sex. This means you can be a virgin and still contract
There are 40 different types of HPV. Ninety percent
(90%) of HPV infections go away on their own within 2 years, but others can go
on to cause more serious conditions such as genital warts or cervical cancer.
● There is an HPV screening for women, but unfortunately not for men. Men and women aged 26 and under can get a vaccine that will help to protect against contracting this STI.
(“Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet,” 2013))
2. Thorough and Regular Testing
Many STIs are asymptomatic (meaning they have no symptoms), so it is important to get tested regularly even if you don’t think you have anything. Make sure that you ask your doctor what he/she is testing for, as some doctors only test for certain STIs. Likewise, your sexual partner(s) should also be tested regularly.
3. Withdrawal method?
Although the withdrawal method is not as effective for preventing pregnancy as using condoms, it is surprisingly effective if done perfectly every time. What’s the problem? Withdrawal is often not done correctly and this increases your chance of becoming pregnant from 4% to 27%. Men release a pre-ejaculate during sex that has active sperm in it and can cause pregnancy, so you are still at risk every time you have sex using this method, even if it’s done perfectly. The other obvious risk is that using the withdrawal method alone leaves you completely exposed to contracting STIs from your partner (“Withdrawal (Pull Out Method),” 2013).
4. UTI Woes
If you’re prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), then you know what a nightmare it can be to have one of these painful experiences. Luckily there are a few methods you can use to help prevent them. UTIs are usually caused by bacteria from your stool entering your urethra and causing an infection. For that reason doctors recommend that women urinate immediately after sex every time, in order to flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urethra during sexual activity. It is also recommended that women who are prone to UTIs drink lots of water every day and urinate often, never holding it in longer than necessary (“Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults,” 2011).
5. Birth Control Concerns
There are many different kinds of birth control methods, from pills to shots to IUDs to patches and so on. Many women have had a bad experience with one or two kinds of birth control and then think that they won’t find the right method for them. The best thing you can do if this has been your experience is to speak with your healthcare provider about your concerns. Each birth control method is different and is composed of different hormones. Many women can find a method that works for them and gives them minimal side effects, but it may take trying a few different methods before you find the one that fits your needs.
6. No to Nonoxynol-9
Nonoxynol-9 is a common spermicide that is used to decrease the likelihood of pregnancy. It comes in many forms (ie. gel, foam, suppositories), but it is commonly found in condoms. It’s true that this spermicide decreases your chances of getting pregnant, but it also irritates the vagina, which could cause infections and make you more susceptible to contracting HIV (“Practice safer sex,” 2011).
7. Don’t Douche it!
The vagina has natural bacteria that helps to fight against infections. Douching actually kills some of that bacteria and makes you more susceptible to HIV and other infections. Don’t believe the hype that women’s genitals smell bad and “feminine hygiene” products are necessary to be truly clean. If your vagina is healthy it shouldn’t have a particularly strong odor and the natural bacteria actually helps you to stay healthy. If you do notice a strange odor, you might have an STI and should see your healthcare provider ASAP (“Practice safer sex,” 2011).
Although talking about sex can be an uncomfortable subject,
even for adults, it’s important that you gather your courage and start talking
to your partner(s) about sex. Not only will it make your sexual life healthier,
but it can also make it hotter!
Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet. (2013). Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm#a5
Practice safer sex. (2011). Retrieved June 11, 2013 from http://www.womenshealth.gov/hiv-aids/preventing-hiv-infection/practice-safer-sex.cfm
Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults. (2011). Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/urinary-tract-infections-in-teens-and-adults-topic-overview
Withdrawal (Pull Out Method). (2013). Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/withdrawal-pull-out-method-4218.htm
8 HEALTHY AND SAFE SEX TIPS by By UrbanSculpt Staff Writer Meghan Stone , MSW, MEd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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