Stay Healthy

Stay Sexually Healthy

Fitness & Nutrition

Taking good care of your health can make a big contribution to your sexual well-being.

In many ways, the experience of sexual activity is a biophysical process. As your sexual organs go through the process of arousal, blood flow to the genitals increases and your heart rate and blood pressure also increase.

In other words, sexual response involves the cardiovascular system. There are many different biological factors that can affect your sexual functioning like the levels of circulating hormones in your system, but one thing you can easily do to be sexually fit is to be more generally physically fit.

Exercise and good nutrition contribute to cardiovascular health, and so they also contribute to sexual health.

Body Image

Don’t assume that models have better sex lives. Looking more buff or more beautiful doesn’t mean they’re in touch with their sexuality. Stop speculating and start experiencing.

It goes without saying that our culture, particularly the media and advertising worlds, place a very strong emphasis on physical appearance and equates sexual desirability with body shape and other physical features. You’d think that you have to be a model to be desirable and to have good sex.

Most of us know, on some level, that this is nonsense – the 99.9% of us who don’t look like models can be desirable and have great sex and relationships.

Look at it this way: did every person you ever had a crush on look like a model? Probably not. Which proves that you don’t have to be perfect for someone to like you. But still, it’s easy to get down on yourself because you don’t fit the mold of what Hollywood tells us is sexy.

Good sex is not about what you look like. Good sex is about finding mutual desire and connection between two people and going with it. All of us have insecurities about our bodies – your partner included.

It’s much easier said than done but if both partners can feel reasonably comfortable with their own bodies, it may help to focus on what’s really important – enjoying the moment and the giving and receiving of pleasure without worrying about stacking up to an unattainable physical ideal.

Revealing your body to a new partner can be intimidating at first but as time goes by and you become more comfortable with it, you may find that your sexual response and the whole experience that goes with it is enhanced.

Alcohol & Drugs

Doing things that hurt your body, like drinking, smoking, and drugs, is going to have a negative impact on your sexuality.

In one way or another, alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use have been associated with sexuality, often in a misleading positive way.

While many people find that having a drink can help them to relax, consuming more than one drink is very likely to have a negative impact on your sexual response and the more you drink, the worse the impact will be.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows down brain functioning, respiration, and circulation. Having a lot to drink can lead to reduced vaginal lubrication in women and reduces a man’s ability to get and keep a firm erection. Being drunk also reduces both men’s and women’s ability to have an orgasm.

Some people believe that taking drugs like methamphetamine (Crystal Meth), cocaine or crack can increase sexual desire or intensify sexual pleasure. But the truth is, as medical studies have shown, taking these drugs will, over time, increase the risk of sexual problems such as lack of desire, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty having an orgasm.1

While there does not seem to be a negative short-term impact on sexual function from smoking small amounts of marijuana, heavy or chronic use may impair sexual function as it damages overall health. There is also evidence that long-term use of marijuana can negatively affect fertility.

Smoking cigarettes can also have a negative impact on your sexual functioning. The arousal phase of sexual response (erection of the penis, swelling of the clitoris) involves increased blood flow to the genitals. Smoking reduces the efficiency of blood circulation throughout the body, including the genitals. Studies have shown that men who smoke are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction.

The bottom line is that staying healthy is good for your sexual health. Drinking too much, taking drugs, and smoking cigarettes will likely, over time, reduce your body’s capacity to respond sexually. One potential reward for making choices that are good for your health more generally is that these same choices can be good for your sex life too.

Always consult a health professional if you think you have a problem with alcohol or drugs.

1 McKay, A, (2005). Sexuality and Substance Use: The Impact of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Selected Recreational Drugs on Sexual

Monogamy & STIs

Am I Still At Risk?

If you’re in an exclusive relationship, it might seem like you’re no longer at risk of contracting an STI. But you need more than commitment to protect yourself from STIs.

“I only have one sexual partner, I’m in a monogamous relationship so I don’t need to worry about STIs.”

Maybe you’ve heard your friends say this or maybe you’ve said it yourself. But how true is it? Judging by their behaviour, many people seem to think that being in a monogamous relationship will automatically keep them safe from getting an STI.

How many people do you know who stopped using condoms because they were in a relationship with someone they trusted? Someone could have an STI for months or even years before they met you without showing any signs or symptoms. And they can still transmit that STI to you. It happens all the time. So maybe being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily protect you.

If everybody on the planet only had one sexual partner in their lifetime, there would be a lot less STIs. But that’s not reality.

What’s Serial Monogamy?

If you are in a monogamous relationship now, you were probably in monogamous relationships in the past. And there is a good chance you will be in more monogamous relationships in the future. That’s serial monogamy.

One monogamous relationship, minus protection, plus your next monogamous relationship, equals STI risk. It’s how people who see themselves as sexually conservative end up adopting high-risk habits.

The thing is that when we are in one of these monogamous relationships, we don’t think about them ending. But most eventually do. And many of us have a series of monogamous relationships over the years – hence the term “serial monogamy”.

Maybe you’re monogamous, but ask yourself: how many relationships have you had in the last 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? There’s nothing wrong with having more than one relationship over time so long as you stay protected.

Serial Monogamy + Unprotected Sex = High STI Risk

Lee has three different sexual partners and doesn’t practice safer sex with any of them.

Alex only has one sexual partner at a time but has been in three monogamous relationships in the recent past and switched to oral contraceptives in each of these relationships.

Is Alex at a lower risk of catching an STI by being in a monogamous relationship? The answer is no.

Both have had unprotected sex with three different partners, which equals a high risk for STIs. Often, people like Alex stop using condoms and switch to the pill thinking they’re covered. Then they end up with an STI they never expected.

Serial monogamy + condom use = Low STI Risk

Both Lee and Alex can substantially cut their STI risk by using condoms every time. This is obvious for Lee who has three different current sexual partners. For Alex it’s less obvious – but Alex has had multiple partners over time by having several monogamous relationships.

Using condoms within a monogamous relationship makes good sense. Sticking with condoms doesn’t mean you think your partner is cheating. What happens is that one partner brings a symptom-free STI to the relationship that they didn’t know they had. In these cases, both partners may be equally surprised when one of them starts to show symptoms or complications of an STI. Condoms can prevent this from happening.