Feeling itchy and scratchy? Does it burn when you pee? Are you sexually active? If you follow my work, you’ll know that I don’t use scare tactics in my practice and I celebrate sex for all its glorious pleasure potential. However, partnered sex of all varieties and even safer sex with condoms carries some risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI), so taking your health into your own hands is of utmost importance.
As a young professional, you take care of your health: you make an effort to eat well (weekends don’t count), exercise (dancing all night qualifies) and achieve a healthy work-life balance (unless it is month or quarter-end). Taking care of your sexual health should therefore be a no-brainer. After all, sex feels good, carries a host of health benefits and is ultimately, the life force.
So, where should you begin? First and foremost, safer sex is an absolute must. STI and HIV rates continue to rise, so barrier methods like condoms need to be used consistently each and every time for all types of sexual activities. Period.
If you are sexually active, then you are at risk of contracting STI, so it is important to pay attention to your body. Some common symptoms to look out for include abdominal pain, testicular pain, unusual discharge from the vagina or penis, pain during intercourse, discomfort or burning during urination or itching or irritation in the genital region. If you experience any of these symptoms, do not panic, but DO seek medical attention promptly.
But remember: the most common sign of an STI is no symptom at all!
So in addition to paying attention to your body and any changes, regular checkups are also a part of maintaining your sexual health. Treatment for bacterial and parasitic STI can be as simple as taking a few antibiotic pills. They’re sometimes easier to treat than the common cold! However, without treatment, STI can result in a number of serious complications including chronic pain, ectopic pregnancy, sterility, pelvic inflammatory disease and even cancer.
Again, my goal is not to scare you, but to motivate you to take charge of your sexual health. You can significantly reduce the risk of unwanted complications by seeking medical treatment promptly and regularly.
If you are looking for a clinic that specializes in sexual health, check out these Canadian, American and British online locators or send me an email and I will be happy to refer you to a clinic in your area.
As always, have fun, experiment and always practice safer sex.