After a moment of intimacy with your partner, you're probably relaxing and processing what just happened. You're likely not thinking about how to take care of your body immediately after a rendezvous, which means you might be making some surprising health mistakes post-sex. Most people don't discuss proper after-intimacy protocol, but are some important things to be aware of that can help improve your health if you're sexually active.
"When we talk about physical intimacy it's important to recognize that there are various forms of physical affection which can be displayed, and we must always think about how being intimate with someone in any capacity may impact our health," says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. "Certain actions can potentially pose a threat to ones' health, and there are surprising mistakes that some women tend to make after intimacy that may affect not only their sexual health, but also their overall well being."
You don't have to focus on hygiene immediately after you've finished a moment with your partner, but it's important to take the proper steps some point after intimacy to make sure you're protecting yourself and the person you are involved with. Here are 10 surprising health mistakes you could be making after intimacy.
1 Not Peeing After Sexual Intercourse
Sexually active women may be more prone to developing urinary tract infections, as bacteria can travel towards the urethra during intercourse. "Urination after sexual intercourse may help in lowering the chance of developing a UTI, since urinating may hinder bacteria from traveling towards the urinary tract," says Okeke-Igbokwe.
2 Using Douches/Intravaginal Washes
You've probably heard this advice before, but just don't do it. "Douching can change the pH of the vagina and also mess up the balance of bacteria in the region," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "It may increase the risk of developing certain infections including bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections."
3 Not Washing Your Hands
"Hand hygiene is always very important even after physical contact such as simply holding hands," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "Washing your hands with soap and water is really an excellent measure to protect yourself against the spread of germs."
4 Neglecting Your Kegels
"Doing kegel exercises help to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong," says Dr. Kelly Kasper, OB/GYN at IU Health over email. "By keeping these muscles strong, you can decrease the incidence of urinary incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse. Strong pelvic floor muscles can also increase your enjoyment when you have intercourse."
5 Skipping Out On Contraception
If it's already post-intercourse and you've neglected to use a condom, don't just shrug your shoulders and say "Oh well." Opt for another choice of contraception, if you're trying to avoid pregnancy. "If unplanned intercourse happens, you can get emergency contraception for up to five days past intercourse, and this is available without a prescription, but may be cheaper with a prescription," says Dr. Nicole Scott, OB/GYN at IU Health over email.
6 Not Taking A Shower
"Keeping the vagina clean is important to do after having sex," says Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN over email. "Sexual lubricants, bacteria from the fingers, mouth, and rectum can increase your chance of developing a yeast or bacterial infection." Using non-fragrant soap or intimate wash can help remove any buildup, but if you can't take a shower right away, you can also clean your vagina with feminine hygiene wipes.
7 Not Drinking Enough Water
Physical intimacy is just exactly that: a physical activity. Don't become dehydrated by forgetting to drink some water. "After sex, make sure you drink a lot of water to help keep urine and any unwanted bacteria moving out of your body quickly," says Ross. "This helps reduce the risk of a UTI by flushing out any unwanted bacteria."
8 Ignoring Any Vaginal Swelling
"If you experience swelling or pain of the vagina after sex, don’t ignore this important symptom," says Ross. "Taking a warm bath and adding extra virgin coconut oil helps hydrate the skin of the outer vagina and soothes any vaginal swelling or irritation that occurs after having sexual contact."
9 Ignoring Other Abnormal Symptoms
If you start getting increased discharge or pain, pay attention to your symptoms. "It could be as minor as a yeast infection that you can treat over the counter or bacterial vaginosis that you need a prescription treatment for," says Sarah Yamaguchi, MD, OB/GYN over email. "However, it could also be signs of a more severe sexually transmitted infection such as herpes, warts or gonorrhea or chlamydia."
After vigorous sex, it's normal to be a little sore, but pay attention to your symptoms and see your doctor if you notice anything abnormal.
10 Over-Analyzing & Forgetting To Relax
"Run through your mental checklist, and then enjoy yourself," says Yamaguchi. "Hopefully you just engaged in some enjoyable activity and you don't want to ruin it by obsessing you have an STD or are going to get pregnant."