According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being concerning sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. In simpler terms, it involves everything to do with sex, sexually transmitted infections, contraception, genital conditions, as well as period disorders, pregnancy, fertility, sexuality, transgender issues, and menopause.
And, if you're wondering why sexual health is worth a discussion, let us enlighten you: sexual health is intertwined with all other aspects of our being—physical, emotional, mental, and social—thereby having a direct impact on the following, and vice versa. Maintaining good sexual health suggests that you are well informed, careful, and respectful to yourself and others.
Maintaining sexual health and hygiene suggests that you are well informed, careful, and respectful to yourself and others. And, the first step in the right direction would be to examine and investigate common concerns that may seem insignificant but can create a major hindrance in your intimate life.
To avoid wrecking your relationship due to an unsatisfactory sexual life, it's important to intervene at the right time. Brides Today got in touch with two OB-GYN's, who shed light on some universally experienced intimate issues.
A Low Libido or Sex Drive
There's no such thing as a 'normal libido'. Although, if you feel that your sex drive has decreased over time—and could be affecting your romantic relationship—bring a professional into the loop. "It could be due to an underlying disorder leading to under-functioning hormones, vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, or psychological factors such as mental anguish, depression, anxiety, or an unwanted pregnancy in the past," explains Dr Amodita Ahuja, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.
Sex should be painless. And any pain in the vagina (which may be due to a urine infection or a boil) must be addressed immediately. According to Dr Ahuja, improper foreplay causing decreased lubrication or sexual health issues such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or vaginal infections can be a potential cause for discomfort during sexual intercourse.
Your vag is home to millions of healthy bacteria that interact to produce a healthy vaginal pH. The interplay of these bacteria and the groin's sweat glands produce a vaginal odour which can vary daily to hourly, depending on the bacterial composition. The regular odour depends upon the food that we consume, our menstrual cycle, and intimate hygiene—unless it's foul-smelling (fishy), usually associated with discharge and itching. "Do not try to curb your vaginal smell with vaginal perfumes or douching. It will destroy all the healthy bacteria! If you're experiencing any unusual symptoms, consult your gynaecologist," suggests Dr Ahuja.
While it may be embarrassing, it needs to be addressed. Dr Vaishali Joshi, Senior Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Kokilaben Ambani Hospital, Mumbai, says, "It usually takes place while coughing, sneezing, exercising, or when one has a strong urge to pass urine. It may also be associated with involuntary leakage of watery stools or gas from the back passage. This condition must be assessed at the earliest so that the correct set of exercises—such as bladder training—can be performed to prevent the progression of the issue."
Painful and/or Irregular Periods
Nearly half of the women who menstruate suffer from dysmenorrhea. The mild discomfort often begins a couple of days before the menstrual cycle and gradually decreases as the days go on. However, if the pain incapacitates a woman to abstain from work or affects her quality of life, it must be investigated. "A clinical examination by your gynaecologist and pelvic sonography will be required to offer a definitive treatment," claims Dr Joshi.
Concerning irregular vaginal bleeding, a range of reasons could be held responsible. It may be a warning sign for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), also called a pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, or another infection. "Clear visualisation of the lower genital organs is required, along with specific tests such as the pap smear and a Chlymadia test, to make an informed diagnosis. STIs and early cancer of the cervix (neck of the womb) can be treated if detected early," she adds.
Vaginal Swelling, Bumps or Growth
"A bump or swelling 'down there' can hint at an infection of the hair follicles due to waxing and shaving, often leading to acne or an infection of the vulva glands called a Bartholin cyst or abscess. An unusual growth may also be indicative of warts, herpetic painful lesions, or discolouration of the skin due to fungal infections. All these require medical attention and need to be examined by a gynaecologist," informs Dr Ahuja.
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