World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st annually in order to raise awareness about HIV and its transmission through sex. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. The day must also be dedicated to spreading awareness on how to practice safe sex.
Why is safe sex important?
Dr Aruna Muralidhar, senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru, tells Health Shots about the importance of a healthy sex life and how to practice safe sex.
There is no doubt that sex is a primal instinct. Other than being a way of procreation, it also has myriad effects on the physical, mental and emotional health of an individual. Having healthy and safe sex without worrying about a possible sexually transmitted infection or an unwanted pregnancy has plenty of advantages.
Good sex can help you sleep better, bust stress, improve libido and even reduce pain. With regular good sex, one can enjoy better immunity, lower blood pressure and reduced risk of some cancers. It counts as exercise too. Anywhere from 70-100 calories are burnt on an average in half an hour. Socially, those who have stable sexual relationships have a higher self-confidence, better social interactions and a higher efficiency.
Tips to enjoy healthy and safe sex
Follow these precautions to practice safe sex, and ensure that you and your partner are protected from unwanted issues.
1. Be safe during sex
For those engaged in casual sex, it is important to be prepared and aware of how to practice safe sex. Using condoms for protection against STIs and pregnancy is prudent. Dual protection with condoms and any other type of regular contraception like birth control pills or intrauterine devices further reduces the risk of getting pregnant. Indulging in casual sex especially when under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drugs can be quite dangerous.
Also read: 7 condom checks you must do for safe sex
2. Respect each other and communicate your needs
Get to know each other and understand each other’s expectations. One must be honest in the relationship. Being polite and kind to each other would make for a good experience. One of the best ways to have a great sex is to respect each other for what they are. Doing things together such as household chores, can sometimes be a great way of feeling sexually attracted. Foreplay is a vital part of sex and must form a good part of intimacy. Women typically need more foreplay to feel connected before the act of penetration. Sensate focus method is a good way of enjoying intimacy without any targets and expectations. For women who have trouble with vaginal dryness, safe lubricants may be used.
3. Mind your hygiene for safer sex
Sexual hygiene is important too when it comes to safe sex practices. Women must wash their private parts from front to back. Similarly, men must pay attention to washing under the foreskin. Being clean, washing hands before having sex, oral hygiene, managing body odour, passing urine before and after sex are all ways of avoiding embarrassment.
4. Be physically active
Being physically active improves sex drive. Some aerobic exercise everyday tones the body and avoids lethargy and greatly improves libido. Eating light and healthy early in the evening without indulging in spicy, greasy and heavy foods also goes a long way in making sex enjoyable.
Many couples may find sex rather monotonous. It then loses its excitement. Try to make it interesting by playing games, trying new positions, connecting emotionally in different ways, playing a certain kind of music or changing the surroundings or the place.
6. Seek help
Sex is a sensitive topic, no doubt. But it is certainly not taboo. It is important to reach out to specialists if there are issues surrounding sex such as difficulty, pain, lack of interest, vaginal dryness, erection problems and even advice about contraception, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.