Sexual and reproductive health is a key component of our overall well-being but it is often a neglected and even taboo practice to discuss.
Maintaining good sexual health requires regular check-ups, exercise and even overall self-esteem and communication skills.
It is important to stay on top of your sexual health just as you would for other aspects of your health to ensure you are having safe and pleasurable experiences.
Here are three things to consider when you are assessing your sexual health:
- Sexual and Reproductive Health
Your sexual and reproductive health requires various types of attention throughout your life, such as:
- Keeping a consistent hygiene routine, in general, and also after sex.
- Practising safe sex if you are sexually active, specifically, through contraception.
- Taking regular STD tests: the frequency of these tests will depend on a variety of factors such as relationship status, age and more. However, it is generally recommended that people undergo a general STD test once a year that will screen for diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV. A more detailed review of how often you should get tested can be found here.
- Finding the right medical specialist and seeing them regularly: this includes a gynaecologist, urologist, breast cancer screening specialist and fertility doctors.
- Healthy Diet & Exercise
A healthy diet and regular exercise are integral components of a healthy life. However, they also affect sexual health. This includes:
- Exercise: A CNN report which highlighted a study by the National Institutes of Healthfound that “Forty-three per cent of women and 31 per cent of men have some form of sexual dysfunction, with obesity and a lack of exercise often being factors.” Exercise greatly affects sexual functions as physical arousal relies heavily on good blood flow and aerobic exercise. Thus, regular exercise is a key component of sexual health.
- Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking affects peripheral vascular disease, which creates blood flow issues to the penis, clitoris, and vaginal tissues. Large consumption of alcohol also affects both men's and women’s sexual capacities.
- Healthy Diet: Maintaining a regular weight and eating nutritious foods is recommended for the better performance of the body.
- Self Esteem & Communication
Another aspect of your overall sexual health is your ability to know, value and accept yourself. Both in and out of your sexual relationships. A negative self-image can affect one’s sex life and often requires some improvement to help with one’s overall perception of self and sexual experiences. This can often be improved through therapy, exercise, hobbies, a new job and other factors that could be affecting someone’s self-esteem.
However, another key component is communication. To have fulfilling experiences it is important to have open and honest communication with partners where each person feels that they can communicate their preferences, taste and boundaries.
Some couples and individuals that struggle with either of these issues and are not sure what resources to access can reach out to couples' therapists and sex coaches such as O Henry.
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