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Sexual health tips

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

How to stay healthy

Sexual health concerns, such as STDs, can lead to long-term complications and even death. Visit your doctor regularly and be honest about your sex life, as well as any health issues you may be experiencing.

Couple in bed with condom

1Types of STDs

Common STDs include HPV (human papilloma virus), chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and HIV/AIDS. While some STDs cause minor issues, such as itching or odor, if untreated STDs can cause serious damage including infertility, cancer, heart abnormalities, mental disorders, neurological problems, blindness or even death. You can't tell who has an STD just by looking at them. Therefore, it's vital that you do what you can to avoid contracting an STD.

2Always use condoms

Until you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship where both partners have been tested, you should always use condoms without fail. Condoms are inexpensive and convenient. Men and women have no excuse not to carry them or to use them. Don't let anyone convince you to have sex without a condom. Condoms don't just help prevent disease, but are also an effective method of birth control when used properly.

3Limit your number of sex partners

Whether you are a college student sowing your oats or a middle-aged divorced woman just getting back into the dating scene, you should limit the amount of sex partners you have. It's a numbers game -- the more people you have sexual contact with, the more likely you'll contract an STD.

4Get tested

Women should see their gynecologist for an annual exam and necessary screenings. Getting a pap smear is the most effective way to test for abnormalities associated with HPV and other diseases. To prevent cervical cancer, early detection of HPV is crucial. If you have had sex without a condom or have reason to believe you may have contracted an STD, be honest with your doctor so that he/she can administer all the necessary tests.

5Beyond STDs

Beyond sexually transmitted diseases, a number of other sexual health issues exist, including vaginal dryness, low libido, irregular bleeding, birth control matters and more.

  • Too dry - Vaginal dryness doesn't necessarily mean you aren't aroused. If things aren't getting slippery enough down there, introduce lube into your bedroom.
  • Low libido - If your interest in sex is waning, you can take steps to give your libido a boost. Learn more about the causes of low libido and what you can do about it.
  • The big "O" - Many women have trouble reaching orgasm with a partner (or at all). Check out our tips for achieving orgasm.
  • Birth control - Consider various birth control methods beyond the pill, including diaphragm, IUD, condoms, spermicides and more.
If you have sexual health concerns, talk to your doctor. Don't try to self-diagnosis issues such as heavy periods or pain. Visit your gynecologist for regular testing to ensure your sexual health now and in the future.

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