by Dr. Brooke Azie-Rentz
It seems like everyone is opening up about their sex lives. Jada Pinkett Smith is talking about how she is open and honest with her kids, sex scandals in our political climate are on the cover of every news outlet, and research is showing that millennial’s are having less sex than their parents! Well maybe the taboo about talking about sex has changed over the decades, but there is some simple, basic advice that hasn’t changed over the years; and that is how to stay safe and protect yourself.
First off, let me bring up the CDC’s announcement that has me scratching my head. In late July 2018, the CDC issued a statement reminding people not to wash and re-use condoms. This should be common sense! I am all for recycling but this is taking things a little too far. I can tell you, countries that embrace sex and do what they can to keep their citizens safe and informed, have less disease and unwanted pregnancy. If you cannot afford condoms or are too shy or embarrassed to purchase them yourself, places like Planned Parenthood will provide them for you free of charge. If you search for free condoms on the internet there are places that will send them to you or even sites that you can search to find places that you can pick them up. Basically, in this day and age of on demand access to anything you want, including porn and sex, there is no excuse to not be safe and informed.
Now, let’s move on to healthy habits. There are a few basic things recommended to stay clean and prevent the spread of infections. Most of the recommendations are focused towards women, because let’s face it, we are the most important! But seriously, our anatomy makes us more prone to infections. Many times men can have an STD/STI and not even know about it, but be spreading it to their partners. For this reason, it is important to know your STD/STI status and check regularly if you are not monogamous. In addition, don’t trust anyone. Don’t take someone’s word that they are free of STDs. There is nothing urgent about sex, it can wait. Come up with ways to discuss testing with your new partner at the beginning of the relationship. For yourself, consider having testing done every 6 months if not in a monogamous relationship or every time you change partners. Remember, like GI Joe says, “knowing is half the battle!”
Now, let’s get down to the dirty stuff. First and foremost, bathing. Maybe this seems simple, but during the course of the day we sweat, and sweat has bacteria in it. So, for some, it is important to wash the genitals and hands before sex or foreplay to make sure that any bacteria on the skin does not infect the sensitive flora that is our vagina. Women are much more prone to infections after sex due to the short length of the urethra and its proximity to the vagina. This is also the reason why it is important for women to urinate after sex to make sure bacteria is flushed out of the urethra and decreasing the chances of contracting a UTI or yeast infection. In addition, lubricants can trap these bacteria to your skin and inside your vagina, leading to more infections. So at the very least, try to urinate and rinse the genitals with water and/or soap. There are also many products made to help clean up after sex if you are not able to shower right away.
If you use any toys in the bedroom, remember to wash them thoroughly right after sex so that they don’t harbor bacteria. I would also recommend regular sterilization; this can be accomplished by putting them in the dishwasher on a “sanitize” setting or boiling where appropriate. There is lots of information online or your device may have come with cleaning instructions.
If you are someone who tends to get UTIs or yeast infections after sex, you may want to consider using a vaginal probiotic prophylacticly, to re-colonize and re-acidify the vagina after sex, which tends to neutralize or alkalinize the vagina, leading to an imbalance in flora and a tendency towards infections. For some women, using soap or douching can also have the unintended consequence of changing the vaginal pH and flora, for these women, using water alone or a vaginal pH preserving wash could be a good addition to your cleansing regimen.
Here at AIM, we like to support healthy habits and lifestyles. We have written articles on women’s and men’s hormones, PMS, breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc. But sex is sometimes considered taboo and private. No matter how old you are, we are happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss natural ways to stay safe, healthy and happy in all that you do.
As the great George Michael said… “Sex is natural, Sex is good…”
…just make sure you don’t reuse your condoms and wash up afterwards!