Whether you're in a LTR or you opt for casual flings, most adults engage in sexual activities. And because we are all adults here, it's important to know that you're probably making a few hygienic mistakes when you do the dirty deed. It can happen without even realizing it, too.
Let's be honest, though: sex, while it feels great, is not exactly always clean. When you're in the middle of the act, being proactive about your hygiene is probably the last thing on your mind. However, it's really important to partake in health-centric rituals before, during, and after sex to keep yourself healthy and STI free. "Most of us know the pre-sex rituals before having sex like maintaining our personal hygiene, and you can never be reminded enough. Being health-conscious before, during and after sex helps prevent vaginal and urinary tract infections," says women's health expert and author of She-ology. Dr. Sherry A. Ross in an interview with Bustle over email.
While being cautious about your sexual health sounds like something you would hear from your high school Sex Ed teacher, it is something you should consider. To help with this post, I connected with a few experts to talk about what kind of sexual hygienic mistakes you could be making. Check out all nine below.
Your Partner Penetrates The Anus First Then the Vagina
While having sex is an intimate act that everyone will most likely engage in doesn't mean everyone knows what they're doing. For instance, some might not know about all the bacteria one might have in their rectum can easily be transferred to the vagina if one is not careful. It's best to keep those two areas separate to prevent any infections from happening.
"Never travel from the anus to the vagina. If something — fingers, mouth, toy, penis — has been in your rectum, it needs to be washed with soap and water before going into your vagina. The rectum isn't a 'dirty' place, but it has different bacteria than the vagina does. Introducing those bacteria can upset the balance of the vagina, leading to infection," says Marin.
You/Your Partner Don't Wash Your/His/Her Hands Before Having Sex
To be honest, it's kind of hard to stop sexual passion in its tracks to tell your partner to wash his/her hands. But if they can, they should. Yeast infections can happen if you or your partner choose to not do this simple step.
"Have your partner wash their hands before touching you. Not a lot of [people] know that they should wash their hands before touching their partner's vulva. But we all have bacteria on our hands, and that bacteria can get into your urethra and vagina. A quick wash and you're good to go!" says Marin.
You Pee Before Having Sex
It may sound backwards, but to prevent a UTI, you don't want to pee before having sex with someone. Instead, you want to do it afterwards to get rid of any bacteria that may have been pushed up from penetration.
"Some women still pee before sex putting them at risk for a urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections (UTI) are a common problem for women. The female anatomy is a set up for infections of the bladders. The bladder and its tubing, called the urethra, sit directly along the length of the vagina. Urine exits the body through this very short tube. The opening of the urethra is tiny hole you right above the entrance into the vagina. During vaginal intercourse bacteria from the vagina and rectum can easily find its way into the urethra and the bladder causing a urinary tract infection," says Marin.
You Don't Clean Your Vagina Afterwards
While your vagina cleans itself naturally and you shouldn't use any harsh soaps to cleanse it, jumping into the shower or wiping it with a hygienic wipe isn't a bad idea to help get rid of any bacteria that might be there. "Keeping the vagina clean is important to do after having sex. Cleaning the vagina after sex helps avoid future infections that can occur after having sexual contact. Sexual lubricants, bacteria from the fingers, mouth and rectum can increase your chance of developing a yeast or bacterial infection. If you are able to take a bath or shower after having sex this helps reduce yeast or bacterial infections. Using an intimate wash on the vagina is the perfect way to remove unwanted bacteria build-up in and around your lady parts," says Ross.
But what if you're unable to take a shower? "If you are not able to take a shower or hop in the bath, you can clean your vagina with feminine hygiene wipes that should be a staple in your purse. Always clean front to back to avoid bringing harmful bacteria from the rectum to the vagina," continues Ross.
You're Not Using A Condom
Even though you may feel a difference without using a condom during sex, it's very important to use a condom to protect yourself from any STI's. "Using a condom should be regularly used to avoid passing any sexually transmitted diseases onto your partner," says Ross about hygiene mistakes you’re making when it pertains to intimacy.
You're Not Concerned With Your Partner's Hygiene
Whether you're single or in a LTR, the person you decide to have intercourse with should be concerned about your health by taking care of their own hygiene. That means, they should wear a condom, wash their hands, or at least be knowledgeable about safe sex in general. "Men should follow the same hygienic rituals that women follow before and after sex. Cleaning your penis with a non-fragrant soap and warm water helps avoid passing any unwelcomed bacteria into the vagina," says Ross.
You Don't Clean Or Properly Store Your Sex Toys
If you want to try something new in the bedroom, using sex toys are the way to go. They can spice things up and revamp your sex life. However, you want to make sure that you're taking care of them, so they don't infect your body. "Women and men who use toys that are not properly cleaned and stored can spread infection and bacteria as well. Don't share toys, wash them thoroughly and with the proper products, and store them in a protective bag or case," says psychologist Nicole Martinez Psy.D., LCPC in an interview with Bustle over email.
You Or Your Partner Haven't Been Tested For STIs
As much as you would like to think that you'll never get an STI, it happens. Everyone should be tested for STI's just to make sure everything is in check. While most of them are curable, you want to catch them early, just to make sure they don't affect your reproductive organs. "The use of condoms reduces the possibility of transmitting sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, taking Valtrex further reduces the likelihood of the transmission of the herpes virus," says sex and relationship therapist Laurel Steinberg, PhD, in an interview with Bustle over email.
Whether you're in a relationship or not, it's important to know what kind of hygienic mistakes you could be making when it comes to sex. Keep your hands clean and wash your sex toys often. The more proactive you are with your health and sex life, the better you'll feel.
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