5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Sexual Health
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 20 million new STDs occur each year. Unfortunately, it’s young people who are the most at risk, but they also make up the lowest number of people to get tested.
Of course, sexual health is about more than just STD prevention. It’s about taking charge of your overall wellbeing. You deserve to have a healthy sex life that you can actually enjoy. But, it requires caring for your body and being conscious of your sexual partners’ history.
With that in mind, let’s look at five ways you can take charge of your sexual health. When you put some of these methods into practice, you’ll be safer, and you can take comfort in knowing more about how to make your sex life great.
- Have Conversations With Your Partner(s)
One of the easiest ways to take charge of your sex life is to talk to your sexual partner(s) beforehand. It’s also one of the most important steps because you can learn a lot about someone’s sexual history, expectations, and more from a simple conversation.
Unfortunately, so many people skip out on this important step because they’re worried it might be awkward or even offensive to ask someone about their sexual history. But, it can give you peace of mind. You should also be open and willing to go over your own sexual history, too, especially if you’ve ever had an STI.
Beyond potential diseases, talking about having sex with someone before actually doing it can be helpful in other ways. Some people have certain “triggers” or things that they don’t like. They could have had a traumatic experience, or they could just have personal preferences. Going over those triggers, likes, and dislikes beforehand can make for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for both of you.
It also shows your partner that you’re invested in this sexual relationship, which can help to boost intimacy and your connection, making for a better experience, overall!
- You Have the Right to Say No
While having a conversation with your sexual partner is important, it’s also imperative that you understand you can say no to anything you’re uncomfortable with at any time. Even if you set “ground rules” or think you have an understanding with your partner ahead of time, things can quickly change in the heat of the moment.
When you choose to take charge of your sexual health, that means standing up for yourself if you don’t want to do something. Maybe it’s something very small and no one else would consider it to be a big deal. But, if it doesn’t feel right to you, let your partner know.
If they disregard your feelings or your statements, it’s also okay to stop whatever is happening immediately. Sex should always feel safe for both parties involved, no matter what you may have agreed upon beforehand. Of course, there are different “types” of sexual encounters. But, no one should ever have to wonder if they are in danger during intercourse. Never be afraid to speak up!
- Get Tested Regularly
If you are sexually active with more than one partner, it’s important to get tested for STDs/STIs regularly. This is true even if you’re having protected sex. The old adage, ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’ really comes into play here.
Even if you don’t think you have an STI, many of them don’t come with any noticeable symptoms, but they can still wreak havoc on your body. So, even if you feel good you should get tested periodically.
Nowadays, getting tested for an STD doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, and it certainly doesn’t have to be embarrassing. In fact, you should take pride in knowing you’re taking charge of your sexual health and doing something good for your body. Most STD tests only take a few minutes and require little more than a swab inside your cheek or a urine sample. Getting tested is the responsible thing to do, not only for your own wellbeing but for any partners you might be with in the future.
- Always Use Protection
Only about one-third of Americans use condoms when having sex. Additionally, in the U.S. about 62% of women who are in the reproductive age use birth control. These numbers are interesting for a reason. Condoms can help to protect you against sexually-transmitted diseases, while birth control cannot.
So, for so few people to actually use condoms during sex is a bit staggering, especially when you compare it to the STD diagnoses each year.
People like to come up with their own excuses for not using some sort of protection, with the most common being that it doesn’t feel “sexy” or they don’t get the same sensation when they practice safe sex.
These are old misconceptions and stereotypes that need to be pushed out of your way of thinking. In fact, using protection can help to boost intimacy between you and your partner, and it lets you both feel respected, knowing you care about each other’s sexual health. It doesn’t matter whether you have an STI or not, you can ensure your safety by making sure protection is used each time you have intercourse.
- Schedule Checkups With Your Doctor
Taking charge of your sexual health means taking care of your overall health, all the time. So, make regular appointments with your doctor for general checkups. You don’t have to wait until you feel sick or you’re experiencing negative symptoms to set up an appointment.
Checkups are considered preventative health measures. They can help your doctor to catch anything that could be going on early, which usually makes it easier to treat. If you’re perfectly healthy each time, that can offer you some peace of mind, too!
Doctors can also help by answering any questions you might have about sexual health or reproductive health. This could be considered an extra “tip” on this list, but because it’s so closely linked to seeing your doctor, we’ll leave it here – don’t be afraid to ask questions about sex.
Medical professionals will give you an honest and transparent answer when it comes to any sexual questions. They won’t sugar coat things. Instead, they’ll give you a scientific and medically-backed answer that can help you to make the best decisions possible for your sexual health. Educating yourself is crucial when it comes to sex and your health. Don’t just assume you know it all. Opening yourself up to learn more can help you to value your sexual health even more, and make it a priority.
Finally, regular checkups can also help you if you currently have an STI by getting you on the right treatment plan to fit your needs. Remember, doctors are there to help, not embarrass you in any way.
An Enjoyable Sex Life
If all of these things sound a bit serious, it’s because they are! Your sex life should absolutely be taken seriously, and so should your health. Again, sex should be something you enjoy, not something you have to worry about. None of these things take the excitement of spontaneity out of sex. Being prepared can make you feel even more confident about your sexual desires and performance.
By following some of these suggestions and putting your sexual health first, you’ll find that you will have a more fulfilling and satisfying sex life, and that’s more than worth the effort!