Sexual health is something that affects everybody. Unfortunately, feelings of embarrassment can prevent people from seeking help for their intimate health complaints. Our aim is to dispel such attitudes and encourage people to converse on the topic of sexual wellbeing. Educating the public on adequate health practices has never been more vital to reduce the spread of infections, change attitudes and improve health outcomes in our communities.
Hygiene plays an important role in reducing the development of certain intimate health conditions. Both sexes should aim to wear fresh undergarments in a breathable fabric. Avoid underwear that is infiltrated with sweat as this can cause infections to develop. Another common cause of bacterial growth is the forced delay of urination. If you feel the need to go, do not to restrict yourself. Both male and female reproductive parts require thorough cleaning. Neglecting to wash the penis properly can cause a buildup of dead skin cells. While this is usually harmless, it can lead to irritation and other complications. Women need to take particular care during their monthly cycle; tampons or sanitary towels should be changed every three to six hours.
‘Safe sex’ is the term used to describe methods of protection against sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs and STIs). Before commencing a sexual relationship with a new partner, it is a good idea to discuss your sexual history with one another. During this conversation, you may want to agree on a preferred course of contraception. To prevent the spread of STIs you may wish to use a barrier during intercourse—condoms, female condoms and dental dams. Another way to reduce your risk of contracting an STI is to stringently sterilise shared sex toys. Also consider the available vaccinations you are entitled to, these can prevent diseases such as Hepatitis B or HPV.
Most common intimate health conditions are very treatable. Early diagnosis can prevent ailments from worsening, therefore recognising the warning signs is imperative.
Erectile dysfunction. A large proportion of men have experienced the inability to get or keep an erection. If this proves to be a recurring problem, it is advisable to seek medical help. The causes of erectile dysfunction can be physical or psychological. Determining the trigger will allow your doctor to recommend a solution; this could involve a change in diet or medication such as Viagra. More serious cases can be treated with a penis pump.
Premature ejaculation. Early ejaculation during intercourse is a common problem in men. This can be a result of depression, stress, an overly sensitive penis or psychological conditioning. While the condition isn’t life-threatening, it can certainly have negative affects on self-esteem and personal relationships. Different forms of therapy are available for premature ejaculators. There are also various medications that can be prescribed to help with symptoms over time.
Vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness can occur at any age, although it is most prevalent in menopausal women. This condition can cause irritation, discomfort and burning or even narrowing and shortening of the vagina. Sufferers will usually have difficulty having sex and getting aroused. Your doctor may decide between some of the following treatments: vaginal lubricants and moisturisers, vaginal oestrogen or hormonal replacement therapy (HRT).
Bacterial vaginosis (BV). Displacements in the pH balance of the vagina can trigger a number of intimate health issues—BV is one of them. A number of things can cause this pH imbalance: over-washing, an intrauterine device (IUD), certain antibiotics or your period. If untreated, BV can cause more serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, miscarriage or premature labour. Medicated gels and creams are available to restore pH balances to normality. •