Sex is a natural need and desire for a large majority of people. For many women, sex is a wonderful and fulfilling part of life. Your sexual experiences should always be positive and enjoyable.
An important aspect of having a positive and healthy sex life is minimizing the potential risks that go along with engaging in sexual activity, i.e., disease, infection, emotional distress, and unplanned pregnancy. The best way to do that is to take control of your sexual health by practicing safe sex habits during every encounter. Let’s go over the steps you should be taking to protect yourself.
Use birth control.
Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy is typically a top concern for women who are sexually active. Fortunately, modern birth control methods are safe, effective, and accessible, making them your best tools for pregnancy prevention. There are a wide variety of birth control options, both hormonal and nonhormonal, available to you, such as pills, IUDs, rings, patches, and spermicides. Talk to your women’s health provider about which method is right for you and how to use it correctly.
Don’t skip the condom.
In addition to reliable birth control, you should always use a barrier method during sex to protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a partner of unknown STD status. Latex and polyurethane condoms are your best bet, as natural membrane condoms do not effectively prevent STD/STI transmission. Male condoms are also more effective than female, but both are considered to provide adequate protection.
Get tested for STDs.
STDs and STIs don’t always produce obvious symptoms—some don’t even have symptoms at all for many years. For this reason, it is important to undergo STD/STI testing when you become sexually active or are planning to have sex with a new partner. This will allow for early treatment if you test positive and prevent you from spreading it to others. If you have multiple partners, you should get tested regularly. Ask your partner to get tested or if they have been tested too, especially if you plan to have sex without a condom.
Talk to your partner about sex.
Open communication is key when practicing safe sex. You and your partner need to be on the same page about birth control, STD/STI protection and status, sexual preferences, emotional expectations, ground rules, and whether anyone will be seeing multiple partners. It’s best if you have this conversation before having sex, as these are all very important points to discuss. If you’re already having sex with someone and haven’t had this conversation, make that your next priority.
Keep up with your OBGYN visits.
Regular exams and screenings are your most effective tools for STD/STI prevention, early identification, and treatment. Your OBGYN is also your best resource for information about your sexual health and preventing unwanted pregnancy, or what your options are if you do become pregnant. Pap smears, STD/STI testing, pelvic exams, birth control, and the HPV vaccine are all important aspects of your reproductive health that you can access through your gynecologist.
At South Avenue Women’s Services, we support every woman’s right to have a healthy, satisfying sex life. We offer OBGYN care, birth control access, STD/STI testing, abortion procedures, and a range of other women’s health services. Our team of providers are compassionate, caring, and dedicated to your health, wellness, safety, and confidentiality. Since 1973, we have provided our services to women throughout Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and the entire Western NY area.
For more information about our services or to make an appointment, call us today at 585-271-3850!