In addition to Valentine’s Day, the famous Valentine’s Day, every February 14 also celebrates the European Day of Sexual Health, considered by the World Health Organization as a fundamental aspect for the general health and well-being of people, couples and families, as well as for the economic and social development of communities and countries.
The objective is to raise awareness and sensitize the public about the importance of information and care about sexual practices. Today at Maldita.es we compile everything we have explained about sexual health.
The use of condoms is necessary, regardless of the risk of pregnancy (and even if you are sterile)
When we talk about safe sex we are not only referring to the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, but also to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A person’s sterility can be due to various reasons (due to tubal obstruction, genetic origin…), but this should not interfere with the use or not of a condom.
If used correctly from the first skin-to-skin contact, this is the only method that can prevent STIs. Even if other ‘highly effective’ contraceptive methods are used, such as the pill, the ring, the patch or the IUD, their use is always recommended (double method), in order to prevent this type of infection (especially when having sex with unusual partners or multiple partners)
When and how often is it advisable to perform a test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
In principle, a person who has had protected sex would not have to consider whether or not to get tested for STIs. In the event of having engaged in risky sexual behavior (intercourse without a condom), whether through oral, vaginal or anal sex, you should see your family doctor and communicate your intention to have them.
Since not all STIs produce symptoms, as in the case of HIV or hepatitis B, waiting to have them should never become the main or only criteria for testing.
Why oral sex does not prevent sexually transmitted infections and other myths about STIs
Most STIs can be contracted not only through vaginal penetration, but also through anal and oral sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC), the risk of contracting one of these infections through oral sex depends from the STI in particular, to the sexual acts practiced. Among the diseases that can be transmitted through this practice, the agency mentions chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV or HPV.
The birth control pill doesn’t prevent STIs either.
The function of the pill is limited to preventing or hindering pregnancy, but it is in no way related to protection against the spread of any STI.
The person responsible for the spread of these infections is the exchange of bodily fluids through sexual contact without using any type of protective barrier. To protect yourself from them, again the most effective and recommended method is to use male or female latex or polyurethane condoms every time you have vaginal, oral or anal sex. In Maldita.es we have explained another 8 myths related to the contraceptive pill.
Why are sexually transmitted infections increasing among youth?
In 1999 the incidence of syphilis in Spain was 1.73 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to data from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science. 18 years later, in 2017, it was more than 6 times higher. With gonorrhea (or gonococcal infection) the increase has been even greater: it went from an incidence of 2.04 in 2001 to a value of 18.74 in 2017.
According to the experts consulted by Maldita.es, this increase in STIs has a series of interrelated causes behind it. Among others, the decrease in prevention measures after a supposed victory against HIV as an exponent of the most serious STI and potential mortality, the increase in the number of sexual partners, the importation of STIs because “people travel more and more” and the increasingly widespread use of more sensitive diagnostic tests that make it possible to detect more STIs. Another reason could be the absence of a health response from the authorities and the lack of specialized centers or comprehensive sexual education.
Myths and hoaxes about AIDS and HIV and the human papillomavirus
Today there is still a lot of misinformation and myths about certain STIs. This is the case of AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). At Maldita.es we have explained some of them, such as that HIV is not transmitted by air or water, or by saliva, sweat, tears or kisses if there are no injuries or by sharing food, drinks or toilet. Also that there are no miracle cures to end the disease and that its origin was not an experiment by the CIA or by American laboratories.
Misinformation also circulates about the human papilloma virus (HPV) and one of its possible consequences, cervical cancer. As we explained in Maldita.es, cervical cancer can be prevented, HPV is not its only cause and it can develop in young women. In addition, the vaccine against this virus does not cause infertility and, although its effectiveness is greater when it is administered to women who have not had sexual intercourse, it is recommended to administer it to all sexually active young women, regardless of the age at which they began sexual intercourse. .
When and how often should a Pap smear be done?
In the general population, the recommended age for performing the first cytology (the test used to detect early a possible cervical cancer or cancer of the cervix) is 25 years and not before, since the incidence of cervical cancer of uterus is very low before this time. In addition, according to the Spanish Association of Cervical Pathology and Colposcopy (AEPCC), systematic screening, that is, the preventive performance of this test in healthy people to diagnose those who could be sick, has not shown any benefit in reducing incidence at younger ages.
Between the ages of 25 and 35, the recommendation is to perform a cytology every 3 years and, from 35 to 65, an HPV test every 5.
As long as tests performed during the previous 10 years have been negative and there is no history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (the most common lesion of the cervix) or uterine cancer, screening ends at age 65.
Anal sex is a completely safe practice (with the appropriate preventive measures).
At Maldita.es we explain why it is not true that anal sex is “a bad idea” or “harmful to health” according to “medical reasons”, as stated by a content you asked us about: anal sex is one more practice within the range of sexual practices, to which there are people who like it more or less, and it can be done in a completely safe way. In fact, its risks are similar to those associated with unprotected vaginal penetration.
Why masturbation does not have negative effects and if positive for health
“Giving love to yourself” does not cause a loss of testosterone in men. In fact, physically masturbation is beneficial as long as it does not become a compulsive behavior that affects our daily lives.
In both men and women, masturbation has physical benefits. Regarding female onanism, this is related to positive changes at the genital level (in the mucosa or lubrication, for example) and with the activation of the vascular and neuroendocrine systems, among others. In the case of men, it could even prevent certain prostate problems.
What causes morning erections?
Although there is no concrete evidence about the origin of morning erections, medical theories point to various possibilities.
First, the testosterone level is highest upon waking and during REM sleep, when we sleep soundly. Another hypothesis indicates that these would be related to an evolutionary purpose by allowing the tissues of the penis to oxygenate. This could prevent cavernous fibrosis, one of the causes of organic erectile dysfunction (of physical origin)”. What is known for sure is that nocturnal erections are related to sexual health. However, the neurophysiological basis is still discuss.