Reproductive and sexual health means that people are being able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, along with preventing sexual infections, and have the ability to reproduce and the choice to decide if, when and how often to do it. In simple words, being aware about sexual and reproductive health services, quality details about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and physical and mental health services can help couples in achieving good health and wellbeing. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Sonal Kumta, Senior, Consultant-Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, to know about the important Hygeine practices for healthy sexual and reproductive health.
Hygeine tips for healthy sexual and reproductive health
According to Dr. Sonal, here are some hygiene practices you can follow to lead a healthy, safe, sexual life:
1. Intimate Hygiene
Taking a shower/bath twice a day is highly recommended, since the country where we reside lies under the tropical zone. Lukewarm water can be used for cleansing the genitals. The movement should be from front to back in order to protect the anal region from harmful bacteria, then rinse gently. Scrubbing should be avoided to prevent itching and sensitivity. Bathing soaps/liquids are to be used externally only, not internally in the feminine genitals. Due to the presence of acidic pH, alkaline soap interfaces with it and leads to the destruction of the endogenous vaginal flora. Also, avoid cleaning the vagina using pre-packaged scented products as they cause irritation, burning and inflammation.
2. Inner wear
Choose an undergarment which is comfortable, made of cotton and preferably loose. Such garments creates aur circulation, allows your private areas to breathe and prevent sweating. Also, it is not necessary to rinse your private areas after urination. Instead, you can use a tissue to wipe off the area and always make sure that the area is completely dry because wet undergarments can leads to fungal infection.
3. Shower before sex
It is highly recommended to wash/cleanse your genital areas before engaging in sexual activities. Washing your hands with a soap/handwash should be a part of your routine. Also, make oral hygiene a part of your daily routine, it'll help in preventing transmission of any infection.
4. Prevent STI's
Using contraceptives such as male and female condoms, dental dams contribute in avoiding sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, Hepatitis B, Syphilis, HIV-AIDS etc.
5. Clean your sex toys
Physical objects that are used for self-pleasure or used during physical activities are known as sex toys. Sex toys are not meant to be shared, they are personal and should be cleaned/sanitized before and after using them. It is recommended to use a new condom for covering these toys before every use.
Contraceptives or birth control measures can be used to avoid pregnancy. The contraceptives available are mainly barrier contraceptives such as condoms, Birth control pills or OC pill (oral contraceptive pills) or EC pill (emergency contraceptive pills) IUCD’s (Intra Uterine Contraceptive Devices) for eg: Copper T and injectable contraceptives. The best way is to talk to your Gynecologist to know about which method is suitable for you.
7. Safe sex practices
You should also engage in safe sex practices. Don't have sex under the influence of alcohol and drugs. It is not advised to have more than one sexual partners. It is better to engage in sexual practices with long term committed partner. Avoid early sexual intercourse until the reproductive system is completely developed preferably till late teenage or early 20’s.
8. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Taking a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, working out regularly and avoiding too much alcohol and smoking is also important.
9. Seek sexual and reproductive health services
A Gynecologist can enhance your sexual health by conducting a pelvic examination, pap smear, diagnose and treat Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), advice vaccines, suggest contraceptive options, along with a complete sexual counselling for all your queries.