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Health And Wellness > Health Issues > Sexually Active

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Becoming Sexually Active


Early on, it will be hard for teens to recognize the difference between love and sexual desire. Adolescents often find sex and love to be both exhilarating and confusing. Studies have shown that parent/child connectedness and love, support, and closeness is associated with an older age of first intercourse, and a lower frequency of sex during adolescence.

Teens should be encouraged to delay sex (which is clearly a healthy and normal part of life) until they are in a committed, loving, respectful relationship. Teens should be advised to use protection as a means of birth control and unwanted pregnancies. Teens should also be aware that although birth control pills prevent pregnancy, they do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually active teens should always use protection. Parents should also talk to their daughters about visiting the gynecologist, as it’s a normal and healthy step in the journey to womanhood. 

According to recent studies, one in 10 sexually active teens has same-sex partners. Gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships amongst teens should be discussed so that teens are more likely to feel comfortable discussing sexual health issues, and are more apt to listen to parents when the topic of practicing safe sex arises. Listen carefully when your teen wants to talk – make sure your teen knows he/she can trust you! 

Birth Control

There are various techniques and methods used to prevent pregnancy. These include

  • The pill
  • The shot
  • The ring
  • The patch
  • IUD
  • Condoms (for both male and females)
  • Diaphragm
  • Spermicides. 

Surgical sterilization is available in the form of tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men. Regulating the timing of intercourse can also be a method of birth control; however, it is not always effective and you should take other additional precautions. Additionally, abstinence is a 100% effective solution to prevent pregnancy. Speak to your physician about the effectiveness, dosage and side effects in order to find the method of birth control that is best for you.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (known as STDs) are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. These can include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhea 
  • Herpes
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Syphilis
  • Viral Hepatitis
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) 
  • Hepatitis B
  • Trichomoniasis 
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Bacterial vaginosis

As with many other diseases, prevention is the key. It’s easier to prevent STDs than to treat them.  

People who are considering having sex should get regular gynecological or male genital examinations. Regular exams give doctors the opportunities to check for STDs while they are still at their earliest and most treatable stage. If not treated, some STDs can have severe consequences, especially in women. For example, pelvic inflammatory disease can cause infertility, while human papilloma virus (HPV) is one of the main causes of cervical cancer. Some of the things that increase a person’s chances of getting an STD include having numerous sexual partners and having unprotected sex. 

STDs can be prevented by refraining from sexual activity altogether, or using condoms. However, condoms cannot always be 100% effective; skin on skin contact in an area where there is an open sore can pass genital herpes. Also, not all genital infections are caused by STDs. For girls, a yeast infection can be easily confused with an STD. Men may be concerned about bumps on the penis that are only pimples or irritated hair follicles. If you are unsure, it’s always best to consult a physician rather than try to treat yourself.

Sex During Menopause

Menopausal and postmenopausal women may notice a decreased interest in sex. For some, it’s only temporary; for others, the loss of sex drive carries through for the rest of their lives. Some of the reasons for a lower sex drive include:

  • Bladder control problems
  • Poor sleep
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Stress

The major reason for a diminishing sex drive is the changes in levels of the estrogen, testosterone and progesterone hormones, resulting in a hormonal imbalance. Progesterone keeps the libido up, and testosterone (a male sex hormone) boosts desire and lubricates the vagina, while estrogen helps heighten sensitivity during intercourse.
 
Lack of estrogen can cause dryness and thinning of vaginal tissue, making intercourse uncomfortable or even painful. Associating pain with intercourse can stifle a woman’s desire to have sex. Vaginal dryness during menopause can be treated with water-soluble lubricants such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly, or natural products found in health food stores such as Emerita. Estrogen replacement therapy also treats vaginal dryness. Herbs rich in natural plant estrogens such as red clover and soy are also recommended to help vaginal dryness. Herbs like black cohosh, sage and dong guai are helpful for other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweat and irregular periods.  

If your sex life has decreased, it’s still important to take time to share intimate moments with your partner. Love can be expressed with sensual massages, back rubs, and passionate kisses. Health practitioners recommend herbs for improving the sex drive, such as ginseng, ginkgo and horny goat weed. You can also try the supplement Zalestra. Regular exercise can help increase sexual desire, as aerobic exercise improves blood flow to the pelvic area and helps to tone the vaginal tissue. Sexual concerns can always be discussed with your physician.

Viagra

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is common in men. It’s when a man has trouble getting an erection or keeping an erection hard enough for sex. Viagra is a pill prescribed to treat ED. It’s safe, and works well for most men. Viagra can help improve your ability to get an erection, achieve harder erections, and maintain erections for longer periods of time. It will not work for all people who use it, because each person has different body chemistry (additionally, erection problems stem from various causes). Keep in mind that Viagra is only a temporary remedy for erectile dysfunction, not a cure.
 
The pill should be taken a half-hour prior to sexual performance, and should work up to four hours. In the rare event of an erection lasting more than four hours, seek immediate medical help in order to avoid long term injury. For best results, use this drug on an empty stomach without alcohol. Viagra is not an aphrodisiac. Viagra will not enlarge the size of your penis, nor will it prevent sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancies.

Side effects include pain in erections, headaches and bleeding. Viagra is only available with a prescription. Consult your physician and decide if Viagra is right for you.

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