Healthy Living: Let’s Talk About Sex!
By Dorothy NAKIWALA
It’s about that day of the year when people have the most SEX! Well at least in theory. So as we get geared up to celebrate the LOVE day, allow me to talk about SEX. This is exciting, right? Or maybe not. At graduate school level, you’ve probably heard everything there is to sexual health given the numerous “sex ed” classes you had in the most adventurous stages of your life in high school. Well this is no ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful and Use condoms) old song, there is actually information out there suitable for the “I have I heard it all” young adults. This elated me; I hope we share sentiments after you have read this. Plus, I am glad I get to share this start of a New Year when people are making resolutions. In hopes that one of your resolutions this year is better sexual health and if not, may you be persuaded otherwise.
Connotations of sexual health as per the WHO include: mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality entailing a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. This is as comprehensive as it gets. The good news is that this slants favorably to your general health emphasizing the important relationship between overall health, lifestyle, and sexual satisfaction. Reassuring that sexual health can be achieved alongside other health goals by making small lifestyle changes.
What to do?
Eat healthy; if eating healthily has been a struggle, consider doing it for your sexual life. Eat foods that are rich in nutrients and low in fats that are guaranteed to keep your “sexual” system in good working order. Strive to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean cut meats, whole grains and low-fat milk in your daily diet. These boost immunity which decreases risk for chronic genital yeast infections. In addition, get regular exercise. People who live a “couch potato” lifestyle may soon find themselves facing sexual problems. Regular exercising opens arteries allowing continuous blood flow good for erectile function in men.
Stop smoking; smoking can be a major cause of sexual dysfunction. Studies have found that a majority of men who suffer from Erectile Dysfunction are smokers, and that smoking can also reduce both sperm count and quality. Smoking damages the small arteries that feed blood to the penis, making it difficult at times to maintain an erection. Too much alcohol may cause over excitement and poor judgment leading to risky behaviors.
Maintain a positive attitude; Stress can leave you feeling exhausted, worried, uptight and nervous which can lead to sexual problems (1). Learn stress management techniques and try to find ways to handle anger and sadness whilst keeping a positive attitude. Accept your body, whatever its size, and believe in your sexuality. After all is done and you still are experiencing sexual problems, professional help may be needed. Sexual problems may be physical or psychological in nature. Including stigmatization due to sexual preferences. The first step in overcoming the hurdle of sexual problems is to open up and talk about them.
Lastly, cut back on the randomness of your sexual life, the fact is that 1 million people acquire a sexually transmitted infection every day (3). Reckless indulgence in sex should be a feature of your 16 year old self. The quarter life crisis is good enough trouble. With all the challenges that life throws at you at this stage in life, an STI should be the least of your worries, have a coherent life style and USE PROTECTION!
Happy Valentine’s Day
- European society for sexual medicine; Information available at: http://www.essm-congress.org/
- Naomi M. Gades etal Association between Smoking and Erectile Dysfunction: A Population-based Study American Journal of Epidemiology Volume 161, Issue 4Pp. 346-351 Available at; http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/161/4/346.long
- WHO Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) Fact sheet N°110, November 2013: Available at http://www.who.int/topics/sexual_health/en/