How to have a healthy sex life
An unhealthy sex life could turn what may even seem like a match made in heaven into a hellish experience.
Studies show that having an unhealthy sex life could lead to several mental, emotional, and physical problems for individuals. In fact, many countries also consider certain sexual problems, including abuse, as plausible grounds for divorce between married couples.
Moreover, as research shows that relationships can even survive and stay healthy without sex, one could say that even a non-existent sex life is better than having an unhealthy one.
A healthy sex life, however, is linked to a happy overall romantic relationship and overall well-being.
That is because besides promoting procreation and strengthening the bond people share in a relationship, a healthy sex life also offers numerous health advantages, including boosting cognitive function and the immune system, relieving stress, and even improving the overall quality of life.
A handful of studies also suggest that an “active and trouble-free sex life may be associated with reduced risk of disease outcomes even among older adults”.
The good news is that most folks are now choosing to have a healthy sex life.
Research in several countries indicates a global sex recession, with Gen Z, Gen Y and millennials having less sex than the previous generations. The reason: people now prefer ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’ when it comes to their sexual experiences.
In other words, it is not how many times one has sexual experiences but rather the quality of those experiences that has now begun to matter for most folk.
Moreover, with the surge in global usage of dating apps, it is safe to say that a significant number of people are still interested in dating and, perhaps, sexual activity.
Nevertheless, an increasing interest in sex does not translate as more sex. And in turn, engaging in more sex definitely does not mean better sex by default.
Like all good things, building a healthy sex life takes time and effort.
Here are some practical, research-backed tips for maintaining a healthy sex life.
Practice good hygiene
When it comes to one’s sex life, it is best to leave the “dirty” only to the “talk”. That’s because practising cleanliness or good hygiene before, during, and after sex can play a key role in experiencing and sustaining a healthy sex life. Some good hygiene practices for a healthy sex life include:
- Genital hygiene
A host of dangerous infections as well as sexually-transmitted diseases can be spread through poor genital hygiene. In fact, poor genital hygiene has been associated in observational studies with penile and cervical cancer as well as genital ulcer disease and also HIV infection.
- Overall body hygiene
This one is probably stating the obvious but when it comes to a healthy sex life, it is important to even follow general body hygiene and not just genital hygiene. This ensures you are also not spreading general non-sexually transmitted diseases to your partner.
- Emotional hygiene
Sex requires emotional and not just physical vulnerability. Hence, just as you would care about your physical hygiene, managing your psychological health and communicating your sexual wants and triggers to your partner can go a long way in ensuring you have a healthy sex life.
- Mental hygiene
Mental hygiene for a healthy sex life involves educating oneself about safe sex practices and talking to a healthcare provider to develop a good understanding of sexual health. It also enables us to build self-awareness and not settle for an unhealthy sex life, including forceful or manipulative demands for sex.
Follow a healthy diet
Studies show junk food or low-quality food can also reduce the quality of your libido and in turn, your sex life. A case in point is that of researchers that examined the cholesterol levels and sex lives of 3,250 men. They found that as a man’s cholesterol went up, so did his chances of developing Erectile Dysfunction (ED). However, good nutrition can lead to a healthy sex life.
Here are some key food groups that can promote a healthy sex life.
- Nuts: According to a 2019 study published in the journal Nutrients, men who added 60 grams — about half a cup — of nuts to their daily diet saw significant improvement in several aspects of their sexual life.
- Fruits: Fruits such as apples and watermelon have been linked to enhanced vascular and sexual health. For women, daily apple consumption is associated with improved vaginal lubrication and general sexual function.
- Chocolate: Made from the cacao bean, chocolate is rich in flavonoids that show promise for supporting sexual function.
- Vitamin D: Evidence suggests that vitamin D and iron deficiencies are risk factors for sexual dysfunction, and correction of these deficiencies may help improve sexual health.
Exercise to stay fit
Staying fit can significantly transform your sex life for the better. Moreover, research shows that inactivity and obesity can lead to sexual dysfunction in individuals and that even a little exercise can drastically improve sexual functioning. Researchers also found a link “between body mass, a negative body image, and the avoidance of sexual situations”. Here are two simple types of exercises to get started with for a better sex life:
According to research, male and female swimmers in their 60s had sex lives similar to those 20 years younger than them. That is because cardio exercises such as swimming helps build endurance, increases blood flow, enhances flexibility and strength, and helps de-stress. It also helps burn calories, which is beneficial to anyone who is overweight as obesity can lower the libido.
- Pelvic floor exercises
Research shows that Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles for both women and men. As a result of which, Kegel exercises help improve sexual activity and function. Pelvic floor muscles can be identified by stopping the flow of urine midstream. Kegel exercises involve tightening these muscles for three seconds and then relaxing them for three seconds, per Mayo Clinic.
Develop good sleeping habits
Several studies show that poor sleep quality is related to sexual difficulties. Common sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome are associated with urological disorders such as ED. Some studies also suggest that since lack of sleep can lead to an imbalance in hormone levels, it may also cause changes in desire and arousal. Here are some healthy sleep habits, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and large meals before going to bed
- Stay consistent: Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, even on weekends.
- Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom
- Stay physically active during the day to fall asleep more easily at night
- Ensure your sleep area is quiet, stress-free and dark at a relaxing room temperature.
If you or someone you know needs help to overcome an unhealthy sex life and develop a healthy sex life, reach out to a mental health professional. You can browse our directory of treatment centres across India here.
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