#HealthBytes: Frequently asked questions about Sexual health answered
Despite being a completely natural and biological part of our lives, talk around sex is usually ignored.
This, coupled with poor sex education has driven us to dangerously low levels of sexual awareness, which has further given birth to umpteen queries and dilemmas about sex and sexual well-being.
To help you out, here we answer the most commonly asked questions about sexual health.
Question#1: What is an STI/STD?
A disease or infection that spreads through sexual activity like vaginal intercourse, oral sex, anal sex is called Sexually Transmitted Infection/Disease (STI/STD). Some common forms of STDs are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes, HPV and HIV.
Question#2: What are the symptoms of STIs?
STD symptoms may or may not show, or sometimes, they are so mild that you might fail to notice.
However, generally speaking, symptoms for STIs include unusual discharge of (white/yellowish) fluids from the vagina or penis, unexplained rashes, burning sensation during urination, and bumps/sores/blisters/warts on/around the genital area.
If one or more of these symptoms show, see your doctor, as soon as possible.
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Most common queries around STIs
Are STIs curable? Some of the STIs are curable, while others are not. The latter ones might stay with the infected person for their whole life.
How common are STIs? Studies suggest that 1 in every 4 persons is infected. However, the numbers might be greater.
Can oral sex lead to STIs? Yes. STIs like Gonorrhea and herpes are usually transmitted via oral-sex.
Question#3: How to reduce risk of STIs?
Follow these general tips to avoid risk of catching STIs:
1) Limit your number of sexual partners
2) Openly communicate with your partners about your as well as their sexual health histories
3) Get tested, and get your partner tested as well
4) Get vaccinated against HPV and HBV
5) Avoid engaging in sexual activity under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Question#4: How to practise safe sex
To practise safer sex, always use a latex or polyurethane-based condom during all forms of sexual activity, whether anal, vaginal, or oral.
Engaging in risky sexual practices that may lead to skin tears or cuts should be avoided. Anal sex is an example.
Furthermore, cleansing and rinsing off of bodies after sex is also advised. Women must urinate post-sex to reduce UTI risk.
Question#5: What are different types of contraceptives?
Contraception is a vital part of sex life, as it protects one from unplanned/unwanted pregnancies.
Based on durability, there are different types of contraceptives, namely: short-term, long-term, and permanent.
Short term methods include condoms and oral pills.
Long term contraceptives include Intrauterine Device (IUD), implants and the contraceptive diaphragm, while permanent methods of birth control are vasectomy (for men) and Tubal ligation (for women).
Question#6: Can a condom break during sexual activity?
Although quite rarely, condoms do break.
A condom may break during intercourse or other sexual activity, if it's not worn correctly; has surpassed the expiration date; is not your size, or is used with an oil-based lubricant.
Bad news is that a broken condom is as bad as using no condom at all, as it might lead to undesired pregnancy, or transmission of STIs.
Question#7: What to do if the condom breaks?
In case the condom breaks, first of all, try not to panic- find the condom, as sometimes, the whole or part of it might get wedged inside the body. So, get it out, to avoid risk of irritation and infection.
Consult your doctor to get a new contraceptive tool, to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
Get tested for STIs, after about 2 weeks of the mishap.
Question#8: How to ensure the condom doesn't break?
In order to avoid such slip-ups in the first place, try and rule out the potential reasons for condom breakage. If your lubricant is not condom-friendly, replace it. If your packets have expired, throw them. Additionally, learning how to wear a condom correctly is vital.
Question#9: What to do if you had unprotected sex?
By having unprotected sex, you put yourself at risk of getting pregnant, or even worse, acquiring a Sexually transmitted infection.
So, to be on the safe side: 1) Arrange for a contraception, as soon as possible. Emergency contraceptive pills are often recommended to be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.
2) After a couple of weeks, get tested for STIs and pregnancy.
Question#10: What is withdrawal or pull-out method of contraception?
Pretty much as the name suggests, the withdrawal or pull-out method is a natural, human method of birth control, in which the male member pulls his penis out of the lady's vagina right before ejaculation to avoid any semen contact with the woman's body.
Though the method can help prevent pregnancy, one must possess self-control and aim for perfect timing to make it work.
Question#11: What's the deal around Menopause?
Menopause is a natural part of aging in ladies, which typically strikes them in their late 40s.
Characterized by night sweats, hot flashes, mood fluctuations, and cognitive changes, menopause marks the end of a woman's menstruation cycles and fertility.
Sex after menopause might get a bit challenging.
To deal with it, using lubrication, eating a healthy diet, and working out is suggested.
Above all, just have fun!
In the end, remember that sex is no competition with anyone. As long as you and your partner are happy with what you are doing in bed, that's all what matters. So, be playful and try new things- above all, just have fun.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually Transmitted Infection