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7 Ways To Keep Your Sexual Health In Check and where does nutrition fit in?

Food for your mood

Are you worried about your sexual health? A lot of people forget about this aspect of their well-being. However, it’s important you don’t fall into that trap. Here are some things you must consider.

Regular STI Checks

First, it should go without saying but you do need to make sure that you are getting tested for STIs regularly. If you fail to do this, then you will be leaving both you and your partner in jeopardy. Ideally, you should be trying to get tested every time you switch sexual partners. This should ensure that if you do ever develop an STI, you won’t pass it on to anyone else and that is the ultimate goal here. We need to make sure that we are preventing the spread.

As well as this, if caught early, most STIs are highly treatable. The longer you leave them, the more damage they can cause to your body. Some can even turn deadly after an extended period. It has been difficult for people to get checked out during COVID-19. But now lockdown measures are lifting, you need to make sure that you correct this as quickly as possible.

Use Protection

Whenever you engage in any kind of sexual activity, you need to make sure that you are using protection. There are so many things that could happen if you don’t, and you don’t want to end up with an STI like we just talked about, and if you aren’t planning on getting pregnant, then protection is key. Remember though that protection is only 97% effective, so be prepared that there is always going to be a chance that you could get something from being sexually active. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy it.

There is a whole range of protection available on the market right now, and you need to use what is best for you. Males should always be wearing condoms to protect both people from getting any kind of STI. One of the most common mistakes that people make is assuming that if they have an STI already and they are sleeping with another person who is infected, they don’t need to use protection. This isn’t true and there are different strains that can get worse when mixed together.

Know The Signs

It is also important that you know what you need to be keeping an eye out for. Your sexual health is important, and you need to educate yourself on when you need to see a doctor or a specialist. Each different issue has its own set of signs, although some issues like Chlamydia can come without any indication at all. But, that’s why it is important that you are having regular checks whenever you change sexual partners.

The best thing that you can do is look up information about the different things that you get through sex and what to look for. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are quite common if you are not cleaning your genitals properly after intercourse, so this is certainly something to do. The first sign of a UTI is burning when you urinate, so if you notice this then you might want to head to a doctor. Any kind of unusual itching, discharge, lumps or redness should also be checked out.

Learn the stats

It is worth exploring the statistics for different STIs. This will help you understand the importance of using the right protective measures. However, it will also help you normalise some of the less severe STIs in your mind. For instance, there is a certain stigma attached to STIs like herpes. Generally speaking, it is considered that people who have this STI are unclean or unkempt. However, it is remarkably common and aside from certain issues with discomfort, this is one of the more benign possibilities that you can experience. Other STIs are far rarer but you still need to be aware of the danger here. For instance, HIV used to be common particularly through the 80’s but now the numbers have levelled off quite a lot. Generally speaking, the most common STIs are the ones that don’t cause you a lot of harm. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fear those that are less common.

Don’t Panic

There is no reason to panic until you know exactly what’s going on. Even when you do, it is possible to treat various conditions and come up with a solution that benefits you. As such, you need to try and keep calm, even if you think that there could potentially be something wrong. Panicking is not going to get you anywhere and can just add to your current health issues because when you stress too much, your body can manifest this in physical symptoms.

We know that it is far easier said than done, but at the end of the day, all you can do now is move forward. Deal with the issue as best you can once you have seen a professional, and live your life from there. The only good thing about the panic is that it will teach you to be a little bit more careful in future!

Don’t Be Embarrassed

Doctors and sexual health professionals have seen it all, so there is no need to be embarrassed. A lot of people try to hide that they think something is wrong, but this just allows whatever the problem is to go untreated, and ultimately get worse. You really don’t want this to happen because the worse it gets, the more painful it could be for you. Or, even if someone messages you and says that they have tested positive for an STI that has no symptoms, you don’t want to pass it on to someone else.

A lot of STI’s are treatable, so the quicker you go and get help, the sooner you can get sorted out. It is a lot more common than you think to get some kind of STI and your doctor is not going to judge you for this. There are also specialist sexual health clinics if you would feel more comfortable talking to someone who sees this literally every day. It is important that you are maintaining your sexual health and keeping in it check, which means getting checked out by a professional if you have even the slightest inkling that something could be wrong.

Remember It’s Not Just STI’s

It’s worth noting that there is more to consider then just STI’s. You need to think about the impact that an STI can have on you and your health. For instance, if you get pregnant while you have an STI it is possible, in some cases to pass the infection to the baby. This is why if you think you do have an STI, you should be using some form of contraception such as the Rigevidon pill. You can pick this up from an online pharmacy or your local chemist. Be aware that some STIs react negatively to other health conditions that you may already be experiencing. For instance, if you already have a weakened immune system HIV can be catastrophic. If you do not have a weakened immune system, these days HIV is very treatable.

We hope this helps you understand everything that you need to know about keeping your sexual health in check. It’s an area of health that is often overlooked and young people, in particular, tend to underestimate the danger here. But you do need to be smart and accumulate as much knowledge on the subject as possible.

Sexual Health and Nutrition

This subject may seem far removed from my usual health messages but there's always a link back to nutrition with any element of our health and well-being! Here's a list of the foods associated with sexual health, particularly libido and fertility: -

Dark chocolate – this must be dark to contain the health benefits! This improves blood flow (could be handy!) and is known to stimulate the release of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin. This gives you the feeling of being in love, it is also released during labour.

Hot chillies contain capsaicin, which can induce the release of endorphins to create a 'chilli high. Chillies also speed up your metabolism and raise your body temperature and heart rate!

Anthocyanins – these powerful antioxidants are found in naturally purple foods (mainly) and can help with erectile dysfunction

Selenium is necessary for the creation of sperm. In studies, men with low sperm counts have also been found to have low levels of selenium.

Food sources: Liver, snapper, cod, halibut, tuna, salmon, sardines, shrimp, turkey, Brazil nuts (just one nut contains nearly 100% of the RDA for selenium)

Zinc is considered one of the most important trace minerals to date for male fertility; increasing zinc levels in infertile men has been shown to boost sperm levels; improve the form, function and quality of male sperm and decrease male infertility.

Food sources: Calf liver, oysters, beef, lamb, venison, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, turkey, green peas, shrimp.

Vitamin D - Vitamin D is needed to help the body create sex hormones which in turn affects ovulation and hormonal balance

Food sources: Eggs, fatty fish, dairy, and cod liver oil. You can also get vitamin D from sitting out in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes per day between March and October.

Vitamin E - The meaning of the name for vitamin E ‘Tocopherol’ literally means to bear young. Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant to help protect sperm and egg DNA integrity

Food sources: Sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, papaya, dark leafy greens.

Coenzyme Q10: Necessary for every cell in the body for energy production, CoQ10 has also been shown in studies to increase egg and sperm health. It is also an important antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage; protecting DNA

Found in seafood and offal. It is very difficult to obtain through the diet. Supplementation is the best way to obtain CoQ10. Amounts in the body decline with age.

B12: Vitamin B12 has been shown to improve sperm quality and production. It also may help to boost the endometrium lining in egg fertilization, decreasing the chances of miscarriage

Found in shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels), mackerel, crab, fortified soy products, fortified cereals, red meat, eggs, milk.

This list is not a complete list - there's a lot more nutritional considerations with fertility and pregnancy, please do get in touch if you would like more information!

I look forward to supporting you & hope to see you soon.

Louise Mercieca

Nutritional Therapist

Personal Trainer

Award-winning Author

Food writer

Presenter on Early Years TV Food

Keynote speaker

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