I recently got out of a long relationship and have just started dating and having sex with other women again. What do I have to do to make sure I’m being safe? – Brett
Getting back out there after a long relationship can be a daunting task, but there are definitely ways to ensure you’re doing it safely. Your sexual health is an essential aspect of your overall health and wellbeing—both mentally and physically, so it’s great that you’re looking to approach it correctly.
And, with September being World Sexual Health Month, it’s great timing to remind ourselves of the importance of sexual health and how to improve our own.
A healthy intimate life can not only lower your risk of contracting certain diseases and boost your pleasure, but it can also help decrease stress levels and improve mood. In other words, it’s crucial to know how to stay sexually healthy in order to live a long and fulfilling life.
In honor of the month, here are four tips on how to take better care of your sexual health through simple lifestyle changes. Adopt some or adapt them to your own situation in order to go into your next date safely, and with confidence
1. Get educated
The most important thing you can do for your sexual health is to understand what it means in your life and to stay up-to-date. Make sure you’re informed about basic sexual health news: the World Health Organization and CDC offer informative articles that detail fundamentals every sexually-active person should know. Consider reading up so you can make more informed decisions in the dating world.
Then ask yourself: what are the things that I need to look out for specifically, and what are ways that my approach to sex can be improved? Are there certain ways I put myself at risk when it comes to sex? It’s important that you view your sexual health with a personal perspective so you can adapt the approach to suit your lifestyle, gender, sexual orientation, and needs.
2. Always stay protected
Whether it’s birth control pills, a female condom, or the classic latex condom, it’s important that you always use protection when having sex with a new partner–for your safety and for theirs. All three provisions will help avoid unwanted pregnancy, which is an important aspect of sexual health. It’s important to remember, however, that only condoms will protect you from STDs and STIs, so you should still use them with new partners, even if birth control medication is being used.
3. Listen to your body and get tested
Sexual health is also partly based on your awareness about how your body works during intimacy. It’s important to know the distinction between sexual dysfunction and STDs, and the different ways they can present in your body so you can enjoy more pleasure from sex and stay safe.
A sexual dysfunction is a physical or mental issue that prevents you from having, or fully enjoying, sex. They’re actually much more common than most people think and are often identified through noticeable patterns when it comes to sex. Premature ejaculation, for example, is a dysfunction that’s evidenced in the regular inability to control orgasm and a climax that’s than desired. It’s up to you to listen to your body in order to get treated and enjoy a healthy sex life: if you notice ejaculation issues, for instance, (or any issues!) in the majority of your sexual encounters, then you may have a dysfunction and should consult a doctor.
STDs, on the other hand, are diseases themselves that are transmitted through sexual intercourse. They are often discovered through their symptoms and should always be addressed as soon as possible. While common diseases like gonorrhea have distinct signs, including burning while urinating and strange discharge, not all have symptoms, and even those that commonly present with symptoms don’t always have them. Some STDs can cause serious long-term health effects or be spread to your partner, so it’s important to get regularly checked if you’re having sex with multiple partners.
4. Seek treatment
If you’ve noticed certain issues beginning to interrupt your sex life, it’s time to ask for help. Luckily, most issues are easily-treated after you get diagnosed by a doctor and work with them to find the appropriate treatment.
For a sexual dysfunction, your doctor will likely need to ask you a few questions to understand your diagnosis. If you’re diagnosed with a dysfunction like PEJ, your doctor will likely prescribe an oral treatment, like sertraline, that increases the time and effort required to reach orgasm so you can get back in the game. They also might recommend therapy to deal with any performance-related anxieties. For an STD, however, your doctor will need to test you, either through a blood, urine, saliva, or swab test. If your results show a disease like gonorrhea, they will be able to prescribe an antibiotic like ceftriaxone to kill the disease-causing bacteria and clear your symptoms so you can return to a healthy sex life.
Parting thoughts…perhaps the most important thing to remember is that your approach to sexual health should be based on your individual situation. Be sure that you’re listening to your body, and utilizing these tips, in order to move forward with a secured sense of wellbeing, and get back out there with confidence!
You've got this,
Welcome to Ask Jack! An advice column where our male friends and colleagues tackle selected reader questions submitted via the ask page. Not every 'Jack' will do it in the same way — so don't miss a single episode!
Today's 'Jack' is an industry leader who owns his own well-known men's product company. He's been helping men feel and look confident for decades. Thanks for answering Brett’s question, Jack!