Sex is a normal part of life, and it should be an activity that is pleasurable, both for you and your partner. But unfortunately, there are risks associated with sexual activity. Often discussion of sexual health can be awkward, and you may even think that being responsible when it comes to your sexual wellbeing might detract from the pleasure involved. But that is a short-sighted view.
It is entirely possible to have a fulfilling, enjoyable sex life, while ensuring that you and your partner take the appropriate steps to protect your health. On the other hand, if you don’t take your sexual health seriously, the consequences can be significant.
Unprotected sex is the riskiest sexual activity. Unprotected sex means having vaginal, anal, or oral sex without using a barrier such as a condom. This form of sexual activity increases your risk of contracting life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV. Most STDs are spread through bodily fluids such as blood and semen, and if you have unprotected sex the diseases or viruses can spread. Compounding the danger is the fact that most people who contract a STD don’t know that they have it. STDs that can be spread through unprotected sex include:
- Pubic Lice
- Hepatitis B
Multiple sexual partners
Your chances of contracting a serious STD like HIV increase if you have more than one sexual partner or multiple sexual partners during your life. This isn’t surprising. The more sexually active you are in terms of partners, the more likely it is that you will be exposed to an STD. That doesn’t mean individualsshouldn’t have multiple sexual partners, but it does mean that people in that situation should take steps to protect their sexual health, including regular STD screening.
Anal sex is the riskiest form of sex in terms of contracting STDs, and unprotected anal sex therefore poses the biggest risk to your sexual health. The reason for this is anatomical. The lining of the anus is thinner than that of the vagina, and is much more easily damaged, which makes it more susceptible to infection through bodily fluids. As with other forms of sex, if you have anal sex, it is crucial to protect yourself by taking precautions by using a condom.
Drugs and alcohol
Taking your sexual health seriously doesn’t just include considering what forms of sexual activity you take part in. Drugs and alcohol can both play a part. It is possible to contract diseases such as HIV or hepatitis through drug use, specifically through sharing needles and associated equipment. If your partner is injecting drugs, they are at greater risk of contracting these diseases, which can then be passed on to you. In addition, when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your judgement is impaired, and you can make poor decisions, putting your sexual health at risk.
How to take your sexual health seriously
The starting point for taking your sexual health seriously is to get tested. Testing for STDs need not have any stigma associated with it, in fact, it should be something that all sexually active adults undertake as a matter of course. There are many options for STD testing and you can find out about STD testing prices or general sexual health treatment price information online, so there is no excuse for avoiding testing.
As well as regular testing, it is important to consider your sexual activity and to eliminate any risky activities. Short of becoming celibate, it is not possible to eliminate risk entirely, but there are many steps you can take to reduce this risk. If you are in a stable relationship, you and your partner may wish to both get tested for STDs and share your results.
The other main way to reduce your risk of contracting a STD is to always use barrier protection for any sexual activity. By using a condom or dental dam, your risk will be lowered and if you are having anal sex, remember to use plenty of lubrication to reduce the risk of the condom breaking or of causing damage to the lining of the anus.
Looking after your sexual health should be as important as maintaining your general physical health. By taking a few simple steps you can dramatically reduce your risk of contracting potentially life-threatening diseases and viruses, and enjoy a safe, healthy and pleasurable sex life.