You wash your hands before and after meals, brush your teeth twice a day, and do your best to maintain personal hygiene. But do you assign the same importance to sexual hygiene? Simple things like washing after a sesh can go a long way in ensuring your sexual encounters are safe and non-cringy. After all, odours from any part of the body will not be appreciated.
What is good sexual hygiene?
Sexual hygiene is the practice of cleaning before, during, and after sex. In an interview with The Healthy, Eric M Garrison, a certified sex counselor and educator, says that sexual hygiene is about protecting your and your partner's physical and mental health. “At its core, sexual hygiene is about what you can do to minimise risk while maximising pleasure.”
Most people tend to forget that sexual hygiene is something to be maintained regardless of whether you are sexually active or not. Practicing sexual hygiene is a strong indicator of being aware, careful, and respectful to yourself, your body, and others'. It also reduces your chances of contracting STDs.
Understanding the Risks of Poor Sexual Hygiene
Simple ways to maintain sexual hygiene
On the day of having sex: To begin with, clean and sanitise any sex toys that you plan on using. Have contraceptives and protection by your side. Don’t forget to trim and scrub your fingernails with a clean nailbrush and hot, soapy water (long fingernails have more bacteria than shorter ones). Having a clean towel right by your side helps you save time looking for one to wipe yourself after the act.
During the act: Sexual hygiene, while having sex doesn’t just prevent infections and the spread of diseases, but also reduces any form of pain and discomfort that one might feel. This is done by using condoms, changing them, or cleaning your finger, toy, or penis before shifting from anal to vaginal or oral penetration. If you’re having period sex, contain the menstrual blood with a towel or menstrual cup (but do check with a health professional if the cup you’re using is safe to be worn during sex).
After-sex care: Remember the towels that we told you to keep on the side? This is when you use them to wipe off any fluids. It's important to pee after having sex to flush out any bacteria.
It is advisable to get regular STI testing, especially if you are sexually active with multiple partners. Furthermore, maintaining good oral hygiene is also important for sexual health as poor dental care can lead to gum disease, which has been linked to an increased risk of STIs such as HIV. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can help prevent gum disease and maintain overall oral health.
How to talk to your partner about sexual hygiene
The link between sexual hygiene and mental health
If you’re practicing the above-mentioned good habits for sexual hygiene, there’s every chance that you’ll feel confident and good about yourself. It will make you less anxious and less worked up. Furthermore, just talking about sexual hygiene to your partner is a strong indicator that your a relationship is marked by trust, good communication, and sex. On the flip side, poor sexual hygiene can sometimes lead to a person feeling shame and guilt.