Better Sexual Health for 2016

Better Sexual Health for 2016

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Whether tending to your sexual health is a part of your weekly routine, or you’re more ad hoc, what better time to recommit to taking care of your sexy business than the New Year?

Sexual health isn’t just about managing pregnancy and preventing STI’s. According to the World Health Organization, sexual health and wellbeing encompasses physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing. Those that attend to these areas are ultimately able to have more pleasurable and fulfilling sexual experiences. And that’s what we all want, right?  

More Self-Pleasure

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In case you’re blushing, according to a recent Indiana University study, 94% of men and 85% admit to masturbation. It also states that (happy news!) masturbation has numerous health benefits. For women, masturbation helps prevent cervical and urinary tract infections. It does this as arousal promotes fluid circulation in and around the cervix, clearing out bad bacteria. Additionally, self-pleasure can lower the risk of diabetes and insomnia through hormone and tension release, and increase pelvic floor strength due to contractions during orgasms, among many other benefits. Oh, and in men, it can also help prevent cancer.

If that’s not enough to get your motor running, masturbation is also the best way to learn your body and maximize orgasms. While exploring solo helps to discover what turns you on, it has the added benefit of leading to greater satisfaction in sex with your partner. If you know what you like, you’re better able to tell them.

Masturbation not only feels good but is also good for you. How many things can you say that about?

Schedule Sex

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Whether alone or partnered, more sex has been frequently linked to greater happiness, as well as a host of health benefits. Regular sex helps to lower blood pressure (where masturbation doesn’t), decrease stress and lead to better heart-health. According to this study, couples who have sex once a week also report higher levels of satisfaction and happiness.    

If you’re flying solo, set aside time each week for sexual exploration. Whether in bed or a bathtub, using your hand or toys, videos or your imagination, the important thing is to make sure you won’t be interrupted and are able to relax. Don’t make orgasm the goal; just stay present with your body. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Increase Your Libido

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If you’re not getting in the mood as often as you’d like, numerous emotional and environmental factors that could be contributing. First, take a look at any medications (including birth control) you are taking. Many have the side effect of decreasing sexual interest, performance, and ability to orgasm. If any of these are directly affecting you, talk to your doctor about alternatives.

Another question to ask yourself is, are you eating right? A diet of mostly fresh, whole fruits, vegetables and lean proteins is proven to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and generally help you feel better. Regular exercise also reduces all those risks, as well as releasing endorphins, helping you feel happier and more relaxed. The combination of a balanced diet and frequent exercise (where your heart rate is elevated for at least 20 minutes) improves all areas of health, not just sexual. If you’re sick of the gym, there are alternatives! Sex counts as exercise, and also has the added bonus of increasing libido. Win-win.

Finally, lower stress, wherever possible. It may seem like asking the impossible, but stress is a big contributor to low sexual desire and general unhappiness. Evaluate the most stressful areas of your life, and where possible, delegate, eliminate or reduce. Doctor’s orders.

Practice Kegel Exercises Daily

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In only a few minutes a day, both men and women can increase their sexual health by completing these simple pelvic floor exercises. The benefits are many, and for women include increased sexual sensation, more frequent orgasms, strengthening the vagina after childbirth and helping postmenopausal women maintain lubrication. They are especially helpful in building a strong pelvic floor. For men, these exercises improve erectile dysfunction, increase ejaculatory control and treat prostate trouble, among others.

Add this exercise to your daily routine, and within weeks, you’ll start seeing results.

Practice Safe Sex

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If something hurts during sex, see a doctor. That’s most important. Don’t shy away from asking awkward questions, or divulging embarrassing details. Your doctor has seen it all (and more). For women, regular breast exams are essential and starting young sets a good baseline from which to monitor changes. Set a calendar reminder for your bi-annual pap test, and for any vaccinations or tests you need.

Whether partnered or single, know your preferred method of birth control. Encourage open conversation about sexual health history with new partners. It may seem awkward, but being told you have a new STI is more awkward. Get tested before each new partner, and during casual encounters, always wear a condom!

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