Sex causes some of the most joy and also some of the most worry in our lives, yet we still can't get enough of it. Luckily, there aren't that many times in life when you should definitely avoid sex. Because that would be the worst (unless you're not interested in sex, which is totally cool too). But there are times when it's better to hold off, especially when you're trying to let your body heal.
The following scenarios represent times when medical experts agree that it's best to give those particular areas of your body a break, but the list is not exhaustive. It should also include that anytime you don't feel like having sex, be it emotionally or physically, is a time to avoid sex. Any partner worth having would rather have you at your enthusiastically-consenting-best that your mustering-through-some-pain worst.
As as Planned Parenthood clinic manager with a Responsible Sexuality Educator certificate, I know when you should probably hold off on having sex. But like always, if you have any doubts or questions about whether or not you should be avoiding sex, better to be safe and contact your doctor or a health clinic, than to be sorry. And if you do slip up and have sex, say, while undergoing treatment for an STD, just keep the dialogue with your partner and your doctor open and real and you'll get through it.
1. You're On The Beach
Sex on the beach is best served in a glass. In an article for Women's Health, OBGYN Alyssa Dweck told writer Aleisha Fetters that sex on the beach just leads to painful sand in all the wrong places. That sand, according to Dweck, can mean pain, infection and abrasions, which you probably won't find too sexy.
2. You're Having An Outbreak
When you're having a herpes outbreak, or feel one coming on, you need to skip any activity that puts your outbreak areas in contact with your sex partner's skin, according to WebMD. Any other type of sex, such as sex with toys and simultaneous masturbation are fine. And cold sores count, as those lesions can transfer from the mouth to the genitals.
3. You Or Your Partner Are Being Treated For STDs
If you or your partner or both of you have or are being treated for a curable STD, such as chlamydia or trichomoniasis, you should avoid sex, according to the Mayo Clinic. Otherwise, you'll just keep giving it back and forth to each other. The best approach is to get tested, get treated (you can have sex after you finish treatment), and then get tested again in about three months to make sure the infection hasn't recurred, according to WebMD. If you just can't hold off, make sure to use protection, such as condoms.
4. You've Lost Your Mucus Plug
If you're pregnant and you've lost your mucus plug, inserting anything into the vagina can increase you and your baby's risk of serious infection, according to BabyCenter. If you have other pregnancy complications, such as bleeding or placenta previa, ask your doctor before you get down.
5. You've Been Drinking Or Doing Drugs
If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the waters of consent can get muddy. In many states, a person under the influence cannot consent to sex, which means getting someone drunk so you can get in his or her pants is sexual assault. If you're with a partner you trust, things might be different, but if you're out partying and you're not sure if you should have sex, best to err on the safe side.
6. You Don't Want To
This one seems like common sense, but I wanted to take a moment to bring up coercion. If you don't want to to have sex, but your partner talks you into it or pressures you, that can be a form of sexual assault called coercion. Even if you "let it happen" or tentatively agreed, that's not full, enthusiastic consent. You never have to have sex and you can always change your mind once sex starts, even if you previously said yes.
Aside from cases of coercion and sexual assault, it's not terrible to have sex when you otherwise shouldn't. Just keep an open dialogue with your partner and your health care provider. And use protection.
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