8 Things Women Should Know About Sexual Health
Dek: What do women need to know to keep themselves sexually healthy?
A woman’s sexual health and sexuality have been kept under wraps because of patriarchal constructs that keep us from discussing them. Our modesty and “mystery” have often been cited as reasons to keep us in the dark about our own health issues. The only way to combat that is to be informed.
What are some issues that women can keep in mind when trying to understand their sexual health?
Pain During Sex
Sex doesn’t have to be a painful experience. If you feel pain while or after having sex, there may be various reasons for it—physical and psychological. The pain may occur in the vagina during penetration or even deeper in the pelvis after. There are many possible causes, such as an infection, menopause, lack of sexual arousal, irritation or allergy caused by spermicide or latex condoms, or even vaginismus.
Apart from the above reasons, you can also feel pain during sex because of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, fibroids, or even constipation or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Pubic Hair Is Good For You
While unrealistic beauty standards set by porn and pop culture have led us to believe otherwise, your pubic hair is actually good for you to keep. Even hygienic. Your pubes serve the important purpose of protecting your genital area from infections. They also help maintain body temperature and prevent against friction that could cause irritation. It also reduces the amount of moisture in the groin area, decreasing the risk of other fungal infections.
Test For STIs Regularly
If you are sexually active, you should ideally get tested for STIs regularly. This applies if you are getting into a new relationship, have been cheated on by your partner, haven’t been using condoms or other barrier methods, or if you or your partner have multiple partners.
Some common STIs to check for are gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis. If you feel any changes in your urine, strange discharges, genital bumps/itching, pain during sex, unusual vaginal bleeding, or pelvic pain—contact your doctor.
If you test positive for an STD, do remember to ask your doctor for a course of action. Reach out to your partner(s) to inform them, so they are not kept in the dark.
Pee After Sex
This is often told as a rule to people, not just women. If you have a vagina, your urethra is close to your vaginal opening. Peeing after sex can flush out harmful bacteria that you may have encountered away from the urethra—which is a good way to avoid a UTI.
If you don’t feel the need to pee after sex, drink some water to feel the urge sooner.
While it’s not the end of the world to not pee after sex, it is hygienic and will make life easier when it comes to avoiding a UTI.
Menopause Will Affect How You Have Sex
During menopause and the years leading up to it, your estrogen levels drop heavily. This can affect your libido and make it harder for you to be aroused. It can also make the vaginal canal less stretchy, causing pain during penetrative sex. It would be helpful to use a lubricant in this case.
In case the lowered sex drive is affecting you severely, you can always speak to a doctor to get estrogen supplements to support the drop in hormone levels.
However, you and your partner can also work on your intimacy levels. Incorporate erotic books or audio along with masturbation to build up your sex drive. You can also switch to positions that are most comfortable and reduce the intensity of the pain you feel.
Orgasms Are Not Achieved By Penetration Alone
About75% of womendon’t achieve orgasm by penetration alone. A lot of women reach orgasm by stimulation to the clitoris or even the nipples or anus. This is why foreplay is so important.
If you want to find out the easiest way for you to come, masturbate more often. Knowing your way to pleasure is the best way to know how you’d also like to be treated by a partner in bed.
Involving sex toys, exploring different positions, and communicating that with your partner will help you have some of the best sexual experiences. So don’t forget to do that.
Female Sexual Dysfunction Is Common
While everyone speaks of erectile or sexual dysfunction in men, women face it often too. There could be many reasons for lowered sex drive, including physical, emotional, and even hormonal reasons.
During menopause and the onset of it, women can often feel a lowered sex drive due to a drop in estrogen levels. Other disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or mental health issues can also see a lowered estrogen level causing a drop in your libido.
Medications, such as antidepressants, and even physical issues, like vaginismus, may affect your lowered sex drive.
While there are many causes for the drop in your sex drive, do speak to an expert if you feel you could use the help to bring back your enthusiasm for sex with your partner.
Get A Good Gynaecologist
Your body is the only one you have. For women, especially, seeing a gynaecologist every few months is advised to ensure all is well with you. Even if there is no larger issue, find yourself a doctor who understands your symptoms and doesn’t judge you for your issues.
A good gynaecologist will allow you to explain your problems without fear or shame and suggest solutions that are good for your body regardless of societal issues. They won’t be condescending when you ask questions about your own body, will encourage a healthy sexual life, and won’t shame you for having sex regularly.
While a woman’s sexual health is often under wraps, keeping these small tips in mind will make you aware of your body regularly. There is no shame in understanding your body and its needs. Here’s to sexual freedom and healthy sexual lives for all women far from prejudice and fear.