Sexual Health 10 Things Every Sexually Active Adult Should Know



Let’s talk about sex. If that phrase alone makes you squirm in your chair, keep reading and know that you are not alone. Sexual health is often thought of as an off-limits topic when it comes to general interpersonal interactions. Somehow over time, sex became a taboo subject, so most people just stay hushed about it. Many do not even discuss the topic with their partner. However, sexual health is one of the most important health topics to discuss. In fact, one of the biggest questions you will hear at your annual checkup is, “Are you sexually active?” and usually the conversation stops at yes or no. If the answer is yes, you should feel comfortable opening a dialogue with your doctor. If you are still mustering up the courage the ask questions, take a look at these 10 things every sexually active adult should know, and bone up on your knowledge.
  1. Safe Sex
Safe sex seems a little obvious, especially for anyone who has been through a high school health class, but it is surprising how many people pay no mind to these practices. Using contraceptive methods like birth control and condoms are basic suggestions. Did you know that limiting your sexual partners and avoiding sex while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol are also safe sex practices? They are! Any precaution you and your partner take are better than nothing. Simple adjustments like these can increase your chances of avoiding things like unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
  1. Free Birth Control
That’s right! FREE. So many unexpected pregnancies happen under the guise of not being able to afford birth control. However, pay a visit to your local health clinic or Planned Parenthood, and you can walk away with contraception such as condoms or even birth control pills free of charge. In addition, many birth control pills are covered under health insurance plans with $0 due out of pocket.
  1. STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can run rampant if safe sex practices are not used. Remember though, not all STDs are transferred during intercourse itself. Herpes, for example, can be passed along through kissing if the person with herpes has open sores around their mouth. HIV, on another hand, is a virus transferred through blood. In many states, it is illegal for someone with HIV to hide this diagnosis from their sexual partners. It is incredibly important to ask your partner(s) about their sexual history to ensure you are not at risk for STDs. If you ever have a worry, be sure to visit your doctor who can test you privately.
  1. The Internal Clock
There have been a good handful of movies and other media that poke fun at women and their “internal clock”, but biologically there is actually an explanation. Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have and can never spontaneously make new ones. Even though a woman will start out with millions of eggs, a huge amount of them will not survive past puberty. By the time a woman is in her thirties, only a small percentage is left – around 12%. By age 40, this number is even lower. This decrease in eggs also means a decrease in the probability that an egg will be fertilized. Men, however, can continually produce sperm throughout their lifetime. The numbers can be upwards of five hundred billion. This sheds light on why so many women feel the urgency to start having children before reaching their thirties.
  1. Sperm Survival
Regardless of how many sperm are produced during a single ejaculation, it only takes one to make the magic happen. And that magic has roughly twelve to twenty-four hours to happen. It is a good thing these little cells are resilient! Sperm can survive anywhere from one to five days inside a woman’s uterus. This means that if a woman ovulates one of her eggs during this time period, she can still get pregnant, even if the actual act of sex was a few days prior. Another excellent reason for those safety practices!
  1. Ovulation Science
If you are actively trying to become pregnant, it is good to know that there is a science behind the best times to try. Generally speaking, a woman is most fertile around twelve to fourteen days AFTER her period. This puts it roughly in the middle of a twenty-eight-day cycle. It is around this time that an egg is released from the ovaries. It is also very rare that a woman will become pregnant immediately following her period because there has not been enough time for a new egg to be released. These days there are many options such as apps, charts, and even bracelets that will help you track your ovulation for a higher pregnancy success rate.
  1. Common Solutions
Because the topic of sexual health can seem embarrassing to some, it becomes harder to talk about issues that could easily be solved. For men, something like erectile dysfunction can be a touchy subject. For women, pain with sex is something many think is normal or “just how it is”. For both genders, low libido (sex drive), can be a hurtful factor in relationships. However, all of these are very common struggles than many men and women face every day. A good rule of thumb is, if you are worried about it, get it checked out. Avoid the anxiety and get real with a trusted doctor.
  1. Identifying Pregnancy
If you have never been pregnant before, it can be difficult to recognize the signs. Whether it was planned or not, keep an eye out for these common tells and make an appointment with your OBGYN as soon as possible. The most obvious would be a missed period. Once an egg is fertilized, the cell walls of your uterus will not shed. Some other, more subtle signs are things like sensitivity to temperature, nausea, sore gums, breast sensitivity, and even catching a cold. Each woman is different, but if a combination of any of these symptoms occur, it is worth taking a pregnancy test just to be safe.
  1. Does it matter?
The age-old question, “Does size really matter?” comes up more often than not. The short answer is no, it does not. Over the years, and through some fault of the pornography industry, the myth of bigger is better spread like wildfire. Men and women alike have personal preferences, but if you are speaking strictly about the act itself, penis size has less to do with successful sex. In fact, a large percentage of women do not climax based on penetration alone. It is more about overall performance. Therefore, men can stop comparing their goods and focus on more important things like having fun in the bedroom!
  1. Emergency Contraception
Nobody ever wants to deal with an emergency contraception situation, but that does not mean you should not be prepared with the options. In the case of a faulty condom or any other worrisome situation, emergency contraception, such as Plan B, can be used and is usually available over the counter at your local pharmacy. There is a three-day window where this method will be most useful, so if you can start the morning after sex, do it. When successfully taken within the first twenty-four hours, they can prevent 95% of pregnancies. Remember, emergency contraceptives are not to be used in place of regular birth control.

As with any topic surrounding your body and its functions, it is always best to ask your doctor first. There are many myths floating around cyber-space, so it is best to look towards a professional in the field. In the meantime, these ten facts will not only improve your sexual knowledge but are sure to impress your partner. Go forth and keep it safe!

---------- About the author ----------
Alyson Monaco is a published writer, expert in health and fitness, and professional dancer hailing from New Jersey. Her love of how the body works began through early dance training, which leads to a major in Dance at internationally renowned Boston Conservatory. Aside from movement studies, she was trained extensively in kinesiology, anatomy, and nutrition. These would only aid in her pursuit of both Group Fitness and Personal Training certifications through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)/National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Alyson has been actively working as a fitness instructor, Personal Trainer, and nutrition coach since 2013 and has been writing on her areas of expertise since 2016. She loves working one on one with people of all ages and ability and truly enjoys helping people find a better quality of life.