There seems to be quite limited knowledge about sexual hygiene because it is a topic that is not discussed so often.
Being aware about sexual hygiene practices is immensely helpful in preventing several infections.
Sexual hygiene refers to conditions and practices before, during and after sexual intercourse that promote and preserve health.
A lot of times, couples are caught in the web of not practicing good sexual hygiene which can increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
Good sexual hygiene practices are cost saving for couples and less stressful compared to the struggles of dealing with recurrent sexually transmitted infections.
Sexual Hygiene Practices Before Sex
Check Them Out
It is a good practice for persons to regularly carry out regular screening for sexually transmitted infections.
As long as you’re sexually active, one should endeavor to check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at least once a year, especially when several partners are involved.
However, it’s important to know that staying faithful to one partner who has also been tested to be STIs free remains a better idea.
Males and females should check for any unusual observation with their penis and vagina respectively as well as the surrounding areas.
Persistent itching, swelling, unusual discharges or rashes should be reported to a physician. Men with less viscous semen should also report such as well.
Couples should always try to maintain good hygiene and try to take a bath before sexual intercourse.
This would help in washing off bacteria from their bodies and prevent the entrance of foreign bacteria into the vagina which could disrupt the normal balance of microbes in the vagina.
N.B. There are specific bacteria that are normally found in the vagina and they play certain roles.
But if a quick bath isn’t possible, a thorough wash of the hands and genitals of partners should be done.
Avoid the use of perfumed or antiseptic soaps in washing up the vagina. A non-perfumed and plain soap should be used to wash the Vulva (the area covering the vagina).
This is because these soaps could alter the ph balance of the vagina, kill the vital microbes there and increase the risk of infections. The penis should be washed as well.
A thorough shave of the areas around the private part is necessary as this could prevent moisture buildup that promotes fungal infections.
It is advisable to shave days before sexual activity so that any wounds from shaving can heal properly, engaging in sexual activity shortly after a shave leaves one (especially females) prone to an infection.
3. Use Condoms
When not sure of a partner’s status, using condoms is safer. Condoms offer protection against sexually transmitted infections.
Oral condoms are also available and can be used during oral sex, they come in different flavors and can be used to avoid spread of bacteria from the mouth to the vagina or the penis to the mouth.
Avoid the Rectum First
The vagina has a sensitive environment, specific ph and mix of normal microbes that make up the normal flora .
When bacteria which are not part of the healthy bacteria (normal flora) get in they increase the risk of STIs or worse still cause infections itself.
The rectum does not have the same bacteria as the vagina and should not be penetrated before the vagina. This is so as not to introduce foreign bacteria, disrupt the balance, and cause infections.
If the rectum is penetrated first, vaginal penetration should be avoided.
Sexual Hygiene practices After Sex
1. Pee After Sex
After sex, urinating should follow. This helps to push out the bacteria which somehow got into the vagina or urethra.
This is a good hygiene practice and would help reduce incidence of infections. Taking a lot of water before sex can keep you hydrated and help voiding of more urine afterwards.
2. Wash Up
After sexual intercourse, its necessary to wash up the vulva area. Wiping should be done from front to back to avoid bacteria from the rectum entering the vagina.
The male partners should wash up to prevent growth of bacteria.
Females should avoid douching as it is not beneficial. it disrupts the normal flora, (that is the normal microorganisms found in the private part) and can lead to increased risk of infections and should be avoided.
3. Wear Loose Underwear
After sex, no underwear or loose and clean underwear should be worn to avoid growth of bacteria especially since the former could have discharge.
Pharmacist in training, University of Port-Harcourt