Conversations around sexual health leave many of us feeling a bit awkward. Sadly, this discomfort in turn leads many to avoid this very important topic. It is staggering how much confusion there is around this matter. This article will help provide some education around sexual health.
Understanding Sexual Health
What is Sex?
Okay, we know this sounds like a no-brainer, but many individuals do not fully understand that any sexual activity is sex. Meaning, oral, touch, and penetration (vaginal or anal) are all considered sex.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
Now that we all understand what sex is, this leads us to bust the myth about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The myth: these types of infections are only spread via penetration. Not the case. STIs can be spread even if penetration does not occur. These types of infections can be spread orally, by touch, and/or by penetration (vaginal or anal). We encourage everyone to learn more by reading our article, “Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments for Sexually Transmitted Infections”.
Practicing Safe Sex
Always use a condom. Yes, birth control may be used to prevent pregnancy but does not protect you from getting a sexually transmitted infection. You should always discuss your sexual activity with your partner. If/when you are in a committed relationship you can then determine when/if condoms are no longer needed.
Talk About Sex
Sex is an important part of relationships, and it should be talked about. These conversations can feel uncomfortable, but you must talk to your partner about:
Sexual history – How many partners do each of you currently have? How many partners have each of you had in the past?
STI screening – Has your new partner been tested for STIs and how recently? Have you been screened recently?
Expectations – do you expect your partner to be committed and not engage in sex with other people, and do they expect the same from you?
Are you a parent of a possibly sexually active teen? If so, you need to talk to them about the importance of having protected sex as well as the importance of regularly screening for STIs. That is one of those uncomfortable, but necessary conversations. You can learn more about how to have these talks with your child in our article, “How to Have Tough, but Necessary Conversations with Your Teen”.
In addition to condoms, there are a wide variety of types of birth control available: IUDs, oral medications, injections, and the implant. Your doctor can help you best determine the type of birth control that is right for you.
Talk to Your Doctor
It is important to be honest with your doctor. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Your doctor is there to help you. To properly treat their patients, doctors need to know everything. If something feels abnormal in regards to your sexual health always talk to your doctor.