What Your Sex Life Can Tell You About Your Health

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle
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If you want to get an idea of how healthy you are, take a look at your sex life. The healthier we are, the easier a time our bodies have with everything — including sex. So, there are many different ways your health affects your sex life, for better and for worse.

"Sex. Health. What does one have to do with the other? Turns out, quite a bit,"  Astroglide's resident ob-gyn Dr. Angela Jones tells Bustle. "Inquiry about an individual’s sex life should be part of routine doctor’s visits, as sexual health can be a good indicator of physical as well as emotional and mental well being." Sexual health, after all, is health.

For this reason, we shouldn't be embarrassed to talk to our doctors about any sexual problems we're facing. Discussing them could actually clue them into health issues that need addressing. And once we address these issues, we'll not only have more energy and better moods but also improve our sex lives.

Here are a few different sexual issues that could reflect underlying health issues, along with some things you can do about them for better health and better sex.

1Painful Sex

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One in 10 women finds sex painful, according to a recent study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. This is common but shouldn't be normalized, since it typically results from either insufficient arousal or an underlying medical condition, like endometriosis (when the issue typically in your uterus grows outside it) or vulvodynia (chronic vaginal pain). "Lots of women avoid sex due to pain," says Dr. Angela. "Many women think they are the only ones who suffer from these conditions when in actuality they are not. You better tell somebody, specifically your ob-gyn. There are ways to diagnose and combat these conditions."

2Low Sex Drive

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Lack of interest in sex can stem from both anxiety and depression, says Dr. Angela: anxiety because your mind can get too occupied with whatever's stressing you out to think about sex, and depression because you may stop taking joy from everything including sex.

One clear sign that your low sex drive traces back to one of these issues is that this lack of interest spreads to other areas of your life as well. If this is the case, "finding outlets to deal with daily stress, whether it be adopting meditation techniques, exercise, etc., may be in order," says Dr. Angela.

3Vaginal Dryness

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If you're turned on and still not getting wet (and you're not going through menopause), the issue could actually be dehydration, says Dr. Angela. It could also result from inadequate blood flow to the vagina, would could in some cases be due to diabetes or cardiovascular disease. If you bring this up with your doctor, they should be able to look into it during a regular checkup.

4Nonstop Yeast Infections

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Seventy-five percent of women get a yeast infection at some point, so they most likely don't indicate any health issue (although you can prevent them by wearing loose clothing, changing out of wet and sweaty clothes ASAP, eating probiotics, and avoiding scented vaginal products). But if you're getting them constantly, you might want to get tested for an underlying medical problem, says Dr. Angela. HIV and diabetes could both contribute to recurrent yeast infections.

5Difficulty Orgasming

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The causes of anorgasmia are often psychological, from performance pressure to sexual shame. But several medical factors can also have an influence, like certain medications (SSRIs are a notorious culprit) or poor blood flow to the genitals. Keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level, getting enough sleep, and staying warm can all increase your chances of orgasming.

The good news is, experts say better health tends to lead to better sex. So if you're lacking motivation to take care of yourself, the likelihood of great sex may provide it.

Check out the “Sex & Relationships” stream in the Bustle App for tips, tricks, and advice on friends, sex, dating, and everything in-between.