Despite the rapid sexualization of culture at large, issues of personal sexual health still fly under the radar. Folks are nervous to ask their healthcare providers questions they worry may result in embarrassment. Schools routinely fail to teach kids the important aspects of sexual health and decision-making as failed “abstinence only” programs pass for education.
Today, we’ll address five important questions about sexual health. If your question isn’t answered, leave a comment so we can consider it for a future post!
How do most women achieve orgasm?
I have one word for you: clitoris. The clitoris has around 8,000 nerve endings in it. This sadly misunderstood part is designed from the same tissue as the penis and has a number of structural overlaps.
Just as most individuals with a penis require penile stimulation to reach orgasm, those with clitorises require the same.
While vaginal orgasms are theoretical possible, the vast majority of women do not report actually having them. However, women do report occasionally orgasming from anal sex.
Is masturbation healthy?
Yes! An orgasm before bed can aid in falling asleep, which is thought to be due to the flow of endorphins released. Some studies find masturbation can reduce stress and improve immune function.
For individuals with vaginas, orgasms can help strengthen your pelvic floor. According to Cosmopolitan, the contractions can even help prevent cramping if you have periods. For those with prostates, masturbation may help avert cancer, which is thought to be because it may “flush out potential cancer-causing agents.”
Be sure to use lubricant designed for your genital region to avoid irritation.
Can I prevent UTIs?
Probably! Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are not sexually transmitted diseases, so you aren’t contracting them directly from a sex partner. However, the bacteria resulting from an STI can travel to your urethra, resulting in a urinary tract infection. So safe sex is an important step in prevention.
Oftentimes, anal bacteria is the culprit. If you’re getting UTIs, be sure you’re wiping properly from front to back, not back to front. Also, if you’ve engaged in anal play, be sure not to insert anything into the vagina that may be contaminated.
Try to get into the habit of urinating after sexual intercourse, making sure to stay properly hydrated. This will help flush out the bacteria that can result in UTIs.
How do I choose a condom?
Many folks don’t realize that condoms come in a variety of materials and styles. First, be sure you’re purchasing cruelty-free condoms.
Once you’ve checked the brand, pay special attention to the labeling. For individuals with sensitive skin, many condoms come with extra lubrication.
And to avoid that hospital smell, choose condoms made from materials other than traditional latex, with the exception of sheepskin, which is obviously not cruelty-free and won’t prevent STIs.
Female condoms, which can be inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse, are also available.
How often should I get tested for HIV and STIs?
HIV and STI testing should be a routine part of medical examination. Most people who undergo routine screenings do so every six months to a year. High-risk individuals receive testing every three months.
Screenings are incredibly simple, and those who haven’t undergone them before shouldn’t be frightened. Common methods of testing are blood draw, finger prick, swabbing and urine samples.
The CDC has a tool for finding test centers as part of its GetTested initiative. Many communities have free local services for individuals to receive HIV/STI screenings. And organizations like Planned Parenthood will often adjust costs for low-income visitors who wish to receive a health screening and aren’t fully covered by insurance.