Sexual health is important, but it often gets relegated to the back burner. This is partly due to a lack of conversation surrounding sexual wellness. While people openly discuss their physical health, and sometimes their mental health, sexual health remains a semi-taboo subject. But it shouldn’t be, especially considering the significant role it plays in most women’s lives.
Take birth control, for example. According to the CDC, almost 70% of U.S. women use some form of contraception. Why shouldn’t they talk about it? Discussing sexual health issues might be uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary part of staying healthy.
From educating yourself on sexually transmitted infections to preparing your body for pregnancy, here are six ways to take care of your sexual health:
1. Continue Your Sexual Education
One of the best ways to protect your sexual health is through education. Regardless of your age or experience, you probably don’t know everything.
In a Healthline survey of 1,000 Americans, only 12% of those 60 years old and over reported receiving sex education in school. More surprisingly, only 33% of 18- to 29-year-olds said they were provided sex education in school.
Do you know how often you should be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? Do you know the difference between normal vaginal discharge and abnormal vaginal discharge? It’s important to educate yourself.
Luckily, there are many services available to provide that education. For example, Planned Parenthood offers online sex education classes, and its digital games and quizzes make learning fun. Even more helpfully, its chat/text option lets users get medically accurate answers to any questions they might have.
2. Rethink Your Birth Control
While various forms of birth control have been around since time immemorial, medical experts still believe it’s not as accessible as it should be. To this day, hormonal birth control requires a prescription. That means women have had to visit their doctor’s office to get access to it.
Not only can this be uncomfortable for some women, but it can also be inconvenient and costly. Due to busy schedules and high medical costs, scheduling a doctor’s appointment isn’t always a realistic option.
Today, many healthcare companies provide online birth control to streamline the process while also cutting costs. Nurx is one service that offers free shipping for contraceptives, delivered right to your doorstep. You can choose between the pill, shot, patch, and ring.
To request your birth control, you simply answer a few online health questions. Once you’re done, you’ll be connected to one of their medical experts, who will write a prescription based on your specific needs. Nurx’s pharmacy will then send a three-month supply to you in discreet packaging.
3. Be Proactive About Breast Health
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. In fact, one in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life.
The key to beating breast cancer is catching it early. That’s why at-home breast exams are so important. But checking yourself for breast cancer can be challenging, particularly if you have fibrocystic breasts. Also, there are other telling signs besides a lump that not everyone knows to look out for.
Know Your Lemons is a foundation that works to educate both men and women on breast cancer and the importance of early detection. The foundation launched an app of the same name that’s designed to improve early detection. The app offers resources that help you accurately check for lumps and consider other symptoms. It will even set personalized reminders so you don’t forget to monitor your breast health.
4. Get Tested for STIs
According to the World Health Organization, 1 million sexually transmitted infections are contracted each day. One big reason for that is lack of education. Some people don’t know exactly how STIs are passed or even that condoms aren’t 100% effective. If you’re sexually active, to protect yourself and your partner(s), you should get tested.
Test Kit Labs offers many at-home testing kits, including STD kits. With a simple finger prick or vaginal swab, you can be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. The STD kits come with instructions, as well as the materials needed to obtain the samples.
Thanks to these at-home kits, you don’t need to schedule a doctor’s appointment to monitor your sexual health. You can do it from the safety and comfort of your own home.
5. Prepare for Pregnancy
Even if you’re years away from having children, it’s a good idea to get insights about your reproductive health now. That way, you’ll be prepared when the time comes. While you could schedule a consultation with your medical provider, there are ways to prepare for pregnancy without leaving your home.
Modern Fertility is a service that offers at-home fertility tests. Even if you’re on birth control, their tests will read your hormones and give you a better understanding of what’s going on inside your body. You’ll learn the status of your fertility, how many eggs you have, and more.
What makes this test stand out is its cost. Fertility tests in a doctor’s office can cost up to $1,000. Modern Fertility, on the other hand, costs less than $200 for one test.
6. Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate
One of the best ways to protect your sexual health is through communication. Not only should you communicate with your partner, but you should also communicate with your doctor. If you have any questions at all, seek medical advice instead of ignoring your sexual health concerns.
While it can be uncomfortable to discuss sexual topics, it’s important. Fortunately, in today’s digital world, communicating with a doctor doesn’t have to be done in person.
Through the use of apps, you can virtually speak to a doctor about your sexual health. Maven Health is one digital clinic that offers on-demand medical appointments with gynecologists, psychologists, midwives, and other providers in real time.
In order to be truly healthy, you need to take care of your sexual health. Thanks to the services above, you’ll be able monitor your sexual health in a discreet and comfortable way.