Sexual health is a very encompassing term. We may focus on the word sex, but sexual health is so much more than the actual act of sex. Sexual health includes:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Gender expression
- Body image
- Sexual self-esteem
- Sexual and reproductive health care
- Experiences of violence and coercion
- Consent and boundaries
- Relationships and intimacy
- Sexual and reproductive anatomy
- And so much More
Sexual health includes physical health, mental health, spiritual health, cultural health, social health, financial health, and environmental health. All these types of health impact and work with each other. Suppose you are trying to prevent pregnancy and can access birth control. In that case, this may help create a more positive relationship or emotional health, which may also positively impact your sense of sexual confidence.
Sexual health is very valuable and important. However, how sexual health is treated depends on your upbringing, where you are in the world, and who you are. If you feel uncomfortable talking about sexual health, you may need a compassionate provider who understands your feelings. At Key Wellness, we provide this service.
Contraception or birth control is the prevention of pregnancy. Birth control also allows the couple to plan the timing of pregnancy. Some birth control or contraception methods also protect against infections. Birth control is designed to:
- Prevents sperm from getting to the eggs. Birth control includes condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges.
- Keep the ovaries from releasing eggs that might be fertilized. Birth control pills, shots, vaginal rings, patches, and emergency contraceptive pills are contraceptive methods.
- IUDs are devices implanted into the uterus. They can be used for several years.
- Sterilization permanently prevents someone from getting pregnant.
Your choice of birth control should be based on your health, how often you have sexual activity, how many sexual partners you have, and whether you want children in your future. Your health care provider will help you select the best form of birth control for you.
Dyspareunia or painful intercourse may be a cause of caused by dryness, injuries, or an unknown factor. Your provider will ask health questions about your sex life, but don’t be embarrassed.
You may need to undergo a pelvic exam where your provider checks signs of skin irritation, infections, or anatomical problems. The exam might also include the provider pressing on your genitals and pelvic muscles to find the cause of the pain.
A visual exam of your vagina using a speculum to separate the vaginal wall may be performed. You may find this somewhat painful, so stop your provider if it is too painful.
Postmenopausal women often have dyspareunia due to a lack of lubrication resulting from low estrogenic levels. Dyspareunia can be treated with topical estrogen. You may also be prescribed prasterone, a capsule you place inside your vagina daily.
Endometriosis is a painful disorder where the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus or the endometrium grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis may also involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissues lining your pelvis. One of the major symptoms of endometriosis is pelvic pain associated with menstrual periods. Those with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that is far worse than cramps. In addition, pain may increase over time.
With endometriosis, the tissues act as endometrial tissue does. It thickens, breaks down, and bleeds with each cycle. However, the tissue cannot exit the body, and it often gets trapped. Endometriosis can involve the ovaries, and cysts call endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue because sore and develops scar tissue and adhesions. These adhesions are bands of tissue that cause pelvis tissues and organs to cling to each other.
- Endometriosis risk factors include:
- Starting periods at an early age
- Short menstrual cycles
- Never given birth
- Heavy menstrual periods
- High levels of estrogen in your body
- Low body mass index
- Medical conditions preventing the passage of blood from the body during periods
- Disorders of the reproductive tract.
- Complications can include infertility and cancer.
Treatment involves medication or surgery. First, discuss with your provider how severe your signs and symptoms are and decide whether you want to become pregnant. Your provider may recommend over-the-counter pain medications and hormone therapy. You may also need conservative or laparoscopic surgery.
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