There are many aspects to ensuring good health and well-being. While many of us focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, and even practice meditation for good health, we often shy away from taking care of our sexual well-being.
Reproductive and sexual health and hygiene is one of the most intrinsic yet ignored features of holistic fitness. Not only is there a lot of ignorance and negligence, but also reluctance to openly discuss these things.
Since reproductive health is a matter of a lifetime for both men and women, it is imperative that sexual problems and their remedies be proactively discussed on a regular basis.
"Among the many reproductive health concerns in India include a high rate of unwanted pregnancies, prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and cancers related to the reproductive organs. Sexual education entails much more than just using condoms and other forms of contraceptives to avoid pregnancy," said Dr Parinita Kalita, Gynaecologist, Lybrate.
"Our internal reproductive organs and external genitals are extremely sensitive. Poor sexual health can lead to infections and other serious diseases. Here's how you can ensure that your reproductive health is maintained," she added.
#1 Maintain sexual hygiene
Both women and men should wash their private parts daily while bathing. It is advisable to change into fresh undergarments everyday to prevent bad odor and infection. Invest in quality and well-fitting inner wear, preferably made of cotton. Wash your hands thoroughly both before and after sex. Use a good antiseptic soap. Remember to keep your nails clean and trimmed.
Women must wash their vulva and labia once everyday with water and a mild soap to keep away yeast and fungal infections. It is also imperative to wash from vagina to the anus and not the other way around to avoid infections from the anal opening. Do not use fragranced products on your genitals as this may cause irritation. Do not over indulge in washing as vigorous douching and rubbing with soap can affect the pH balance of the sensitive genital skin.
#2 Track your period
Always keep a record of your period, including the cycle length, duration of menstruation, and the flow. Check for any irregularities such as scanty or excessive bleeding, unusual odor, and presence of clots. If you miss your period but do not get a positive result in a home pregnancy test, consult your doctor without delay. Other than this, it is a must to change wet napkins / tampons every 3 to 6 hours depending upon the flow.
#3 Practice safe sex
Condoms are possibly the best method of contraception as they protect against both pregnancy and STDs. Talk to your medical care provider about other methods of contraception for women such as implants, IUDs, and birth control pills. Communicate with your partner about issues that you or he/she may be facing so that you can choose the ideal contraceptive. An unwanted pregnancy can also be prevented with the use of injectable contraceptives.
In this form of contraception, progesterone is released into the body by injecting it into a muscle to stop pregnancy. Progesterone works by stopping the release of an egg by the ovary (ovulation), making the mucus (sticky fluid) at the opening of the uterus thicker to prevent entry of the sperm, and changing the lining of the uterus so a fertilized egg can't take hold.
Talk to your doctor to get more information regarding STDs. Get routine medical checkups that include screening for STDs for both partners. If you indulge in oral sex, you and your partner need to ensure good oral health. In case of any sores or open wounds in or around the mouth, it is wise to refrain from oral sex to avoid any possible infection.
#4 Don't hold back the urge to urinate
Many people have the habit of holding back urine till it is urgent. Letting out urine on time not only keeps the urinary tract clean and free of germs but also prevents buildup of toxins in the body.
#5 Self-examination and timely health checkups
It is ideal to make medical checkups, for you and your partner, a habit. These can help detect any irregularities such as redness, bumps, lumps, blisters, and warts on the penis, testicles, and vagina. They can also help diagnose and treat anything from common yeast and fungal infections to serious sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and cancer in a timely manner.
Women should self-examine their breasts every month to check for any breast abnormalities and lumps. Both men and women should go for age appropriate wellness management packages that consist of tests tailor-made for different age groups.
Women above the age of 26 must ask for a PAP smear if it is not part of their regular health checkup package. Girls between 11 and 26 years of age should get vaccinated (HPV vaccine) to protect themselves against cervical cancer and genital warts that are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
"Sexual health is an important part of your complete well-being. These basic tips along with good nutrition and a healthy sexual relationship will ensure that you are on the right path to good reproductive health," Kalita concluded.