2020 has been a difficult year for us all. Not only has this year’s COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on the healthcare systems of countries across the world, it has also wreaked havoc on people’s personal lives. Forcing people indoors under government-imposed lockdown orders forced us to change our lives in terms of our social interactions and professional pursuits. The economic implications of lockdown also took their toll with millions of people losing their jobs.
Understandably, under these historically unique circumstances, taking care of one’s sexual health was put on the back burner. Perhaps for some of us, this was because social distancing limited the opportunities for sexual activities or simply because staying COVID-19 free became our primary health concern.
With that being said, there is a new year on the horizon. As usual, this is a great time to reflect on the past and set goals for the future. The start of a new year is a great time to prioritize sexual health. To help you do so, here are some good practices you should follow.
Visit Your Local Sexual Health Clinic
Start your journey to better sexual health by booking an appointment at your nearest sexual health center. It really isn’t that different from other medical appointments you may have had in the past. It’s an excellent opportunity to discuss sexual health concerns and ask questions on STDs, birth control, or pregnancy. It varies from one place to the next, but these visits could include a combination of procedures, including a breast exam, a Pap smear, and a pelvic exam.
If you are sexually active, you are at risk of contracting HIV and a range of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Remember, not all STDs will have noticeable symptoms, so it is wise to get tested.
Whether the thought of a physical examination is off-putting or you’d rather keep your distance from health facilities due to COVID-19, help is at hand. These days you don’t actually need to visit a sexual health center to be tested. There are now DIY STD testing kits that can be done at home.
Consider Your Birth Control Options
Taking some time to consider birth control options is never a bad idea. With so many different methods available, the staff at the sexual health center will likely be able to narrow down your best options. They’ll be able to give you the pros and cons of each type of birth control, including hormonal methods like the pill or an IUD.
Communicate to Your Partner About Sexual Health
While taking care of your own sexual health is a good first step, remember that it takes two (or more) to tango! This is why it’s so important to ‘the talk’ with your sexual partner. Communicating openly will allow you to establish whether you are on the same page when it comes to safe sexual practices. A few things you might want to discuss include lowering the risk of STIs, birth control options and whether they envision having children in the future.
Taking the necessary steps to look after your sexual health isn’t always easy. In fact, it can feel pretty awkward at times, but it is important on many levels. Commit to using the new year as an opportunity to prioritize your sexual health. There is no doubt your body will thank you for it.