Healthy Sex for Women
pleasurable, satisfying sex life is good for your health. Sex can reduce
emotional stress. It can be a bonding experience within a relationship. It can
also be a great deal of fun.
sex has risks. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause emotional and
physical discomfort. They can also cause serious medical problems like
infertility. Chronic pelvic pain can affect your enjoyment not just of sex but
also of daily life. Sexual dysfunction can make sex seem like more of a chore
than a pleasure.
a healthy sex life takes work. Fortunately, most of the time it’s easy to
improve your sexual health.
Protect Yourself from Sexually Transmitted Diseases
you are a sexually active woman, you are at risk of contracting an STD. Your
risk is higher if you’ve had 15 lifetime partners than if you’ve had only one.
However, it’s possible to contract an STD the first time you have sex. You can
even contract an STD if your partner is also a virgin. It’s rare, but it can
happen. Many children contract oral herpes from their families while growing
up. They can then pass it on to a partner during oral sex.
are ways to protect yourself from STDs. They may not be 100 percent successful
all the time, but they can help.
two types of STDs are preventable by vaccine. These are the human
papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis. Two HPV vaccines are available. Cervarix
protects against the two types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer.
Gardasil protects against those two types as well as the two types that cause
the majority of genital warts. Both vaccines are most effective when given
before a woman starts having sex. You can still get vaccinated up through your
vaccine is also available against hepatitis B. It’s normally given during
infancy. Hepatitis B causes liver disease. It can be transmitted through sexual
vaccine for hepatitis A is available as well. Hepatitis A is not usually spread
during sex, but it can be transmitted during oral-anal contact. The vaccine is
recommended for all children at age 1.
Practice Safe Sex
sex is very effective at preventing STDs that spread through infected
secretions, such as HIV. It’s less effective at preventing STDs that are
transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. However, it can still reduce your
to use latex or polyurethane condoms and dental dams every time you have sex.
There is always an advantage to using protection. Consistent use of barriers
can reduce the transmission of STIs during:
women do not realize that oral sex can transmit disease. However, a number of
STDs can be transmitted during oral sex. These include:
recent rise in the increase of oral cancer is thought to be due to the
transmission of HPV during oral sex.
Get Screened for STDs
STD testing can reduce the long-term consequences of an infection. Left
untreated, bacterial diseases such as gonorrhea can have serious health
consequences, including infertility. Screening can help to prevent such
can also reduce your risk of contracting an STD. Make a date to get tested with
a new partner before starting a sexual relationship. Then you will each know if
you are putting the other at risk.
screening is a good idea for anyone who is sexually active. STDs can affect
individuals of any age. Even people in monogamous marriages can end up with an STD
if both partners weren’t screened before they got together.
Have Regular Pap Smears
smears are a routine part of women’s healthcare. These tests detect early signs
of cervical cancer. Precancerous changes can be treated before they become
cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with HPV. Therefore, practicing
safer sex can reduce your risk of cervical cancer. HPV vaccination can reduce
your risk as well. However, there are many types of cancer-causing HPV. Not all
of them are covered by the vaccine. Regular Pap smears are important even for
women who have received the HPV vaccine.
cervical cancer, and its treatment, can have negative effects on your sex life
and fertility. It’s better to catch cervical changes early than wait for them
to cause damage.
Tell Your Doctor About Pelvic Pain
often assume that pelvic pain is a normal part of womanhood. They have been
told that menstruation is supposed to hurt. Therefore, they may not discuss
pelvic pain with their doctor.
women should not have to live with serious pelvic pain. Often severe pain
during menses is a sign of a potentially treatable health problem. Such
problems can also cause problems with fertility and pain during sex.
is an overgrowth of the lining of the uterus. This lining is called the
endometrium. It’s the source of blood and tissue during menstruation. It also
nourishes the growing fetus.
a woman has endometriosis, the endometrium grows outside the uterus. It can
attach to other organs and the inside of the abdomen. This can be extremely
painful. Symptoms of endometriosis include:
during bowel movements
from endometriosis can often be helped with treatment. Treatment depends on
whether you want to have children. Options include:
to remove the excess tissue
(removal of the uterus)
are noncancerous tumors of the uterus. According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 75
percent of women have fibroids. However, most women will never need treatment.
Fibroids are not necessarily painful or problematic. They do not increase your
risk of cancer. Large fibroids may affect your ability to have children.
can affect your sex life if they cause:
with menstrual bleeding.
treatment is necessary, several options are available. They will not
necessarily affect your ability to have children.
Find a Way to Enjoy Sex
sexual dysfunction is common. Many women have problems with their sex lives.
Effective treatments are available for most common forms of female sexual
are four main types of female sexual dysfunction.
Lack of Interest in Sex
are many reasons why a woman may not be interested in sex. She may be too
tired. She may be annoyed with her partner. Her hormone levels may be out of
balance and affecting her interest.
you have experienced a sudden lack of interest in sex, talk to your doctor.
There may be a biological cause. Your doctor can also refer you to a sex
therapist for counseling. If you want to be interested in sex, you can usually
learn how to make that happen.
Difficulty Becoming Aroused
becoming aroused, or maintaining arousal, are not uncommon. These problems may
be medically based. They may also be based in relationship problems. Sexual
beliefs can affect your ability to become aroused.
you are concerned about problems with arousal, talk to a doctor. Help may be
available. Some arousal problems respond best to medical therapy. Other women
just need help with stress reduction and improving their relationships.
intercourse shouldn’t be painful. If you are having pain during sex, talk to
your doctor. There are several potential causes of sexual pain. These include:
very important to get help for painful intercourse as soon as possible. If not,
fear of pain may lead you to clench up during sex. This can make sex even more
painful. It can be a vicious cycle.
sex can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the cause. When you talk
to your doctor about your problem, be prepared to discuss if you have pain:
touched on the outside of your vulva
your vagina is clenching uncontrollably
details are important. They can help your doctor diagnose underlying problems
that may be causing your pain.
Problems with Orgasm
with orgasm are often the easiest type of sexual dysfunction to treat. Many
women who can’t orgasm simply aren’t getting the right type of stimulation
during sex. There is a common misconception that women should be able to orgasm
from vaginal intercourse. However, the majority of women need direct clitoral
stimulation to climax.
you have difficulty reaching orgasm, you may benefit from seeing a sex
therapist. A sex therapist can help you learn how to have an orgasm.
Educational books and videos are also available to help you find your orgasm.
Choose When (and If) to Have Children
you are a woman who has sex with men, it’s important to know your options for
contraception. Trying to get pregnant, or worry about unwanted pregnancy, takes
a toll on many women’s sex lives.
you think you might want to have children eventually, but don’t want to have
them now, reversible contraception is the way to go. Contraceptive options vary
greatly in convenience, ease of use, and cost. They range from the cheap,
use-when-needed condom to an intrauterine device (IUD), which can last for up
to 10 years.
contraceptive options include:
to your doctor about which option is right for you. The effectiveness varies
greatly. So does the ease of use.
there’s one thing every woman should remember. There are lots of ways to
prevent pregnancy. Only condoms can effectively reduce the risk of STDs.
you never plan to have children, you may choose to undergo sterilization.
Female sterilization methods work by blocking the Fallopian tubes. The sperm
cannot reach the egg. This means a pregnancy cannot be achieved.
you are in a couple, talk to your partner about your options. Sterilization is
generally less painful and invasive for men than women.
sterilization procedures are theoretically reversible. However, reversal does
not always work. Therefore, you should treat the procedure as permanent.
Don’t Let Age Slow You Down
best way to keep your sex life healthy is to keep having sex. Regular sexual
activity helps to keep the vagina healthy. However, even if
you haven’t had sex in a while, age doesn’t have to hinder
your sex life. You just have to keep certain factors in mind.
Balance Your Hormones
perimenopausal period occurs five to 10 years before menopause. During this
period, your hormones may fluctuate wildly. This may cause:
- a lower
low-dose birth control pill or hormonal IUD may be able to help. However, you
shouldn’t use hormones if you are still trying to get pregnant.
you move into menopause, your hormone levels will continue to change. A lack of
estrogen can lead to vaginal atrophy and dryness. This can be helped with
hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or local estrogen creams.
women experience vaginal dryness after menopause. Their vaginal tissues may
also become more delicate and sensitive. This can increase the risk of
contracting an STD. It can also make sex more painful.
with vaginal dryness can often be helped with sexual lubricants. Sometimes
these lubricants can be used in combination with an estrogen cream or
suppository. The estrogen helps to restore elasticity to the vaginal tissues.
arousal patterns change as they age. It may take longer for them to become
aroused. They may have less lubrication. On the other hand, no longer having to
worry about pregnancy can be freeing. Some women enjoy sex even more once
they’ve gone past menopause.
patterns for men change with age as well. Women who have sex with male partners
may notice that it takes longer for their partners to get an erection. The
erection may not be as firm as it used to be. However, many men may be able to
last longer during intercourse.
sex life may change, but you’re never too old to enjoy sex.
Don’t Forget to Play Safe
the increase in erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs, active sex lives are on the
increase in older populations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has led to an
increase in STDs among older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
(CDC), HIV is a growing problem in mature adults. Individuals over the age of 55
accounted for 19 percent of people living with HIV in the United States in
older adults aren’t aware of safe sex techniques. Condoms and lubricant should
be used during anal and vaginal intercourse. Condoms or dental dams can be used
during oral sex.
sex is not necessary if you’re in a long-term relationship where both partners
have tested negative. In all other cases, it’s an excellent idea.