Guys – Your sexual health needs attention too
On average, guys have a 13-year-gap between when they first start having sex and when they get married and have a first child – two years longer than the average woman. But men’s sexual and reproductive health is often overlooked even though you are key to protecting yourself and your partners against STDs and obviously it takes two to tango so you have a big role in preventing pregnancy when you’re not ready to be a parent and understanding your fertility when you decide it is time to become a parent.
To start — we’re big on fine tuning skills to help people communicate with their partners and taking an active role in healthy, consensual and fun sexual activity. If you’re having some trouble getting the conversation started with your partner, health care provider, friends or family, here are some tip and conversation starters.
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) screening and treatment is key to men’s health – likely the most consistent health need over time. (Of course there’s a range of other health issues from sporting accidents to the flu that can require attention – and getting health insurance coverage can help with any of it, so think about enrolling if you haven’t yet.) Getting good information and some counseling about preventing STIs and screening, testing and treatment for STIs is a great place to start. Guys can get or give an STI having sex with men or women – and that includes oral, vaginal and anal sex. One of the most suprising STI facts is that a lot don’t cause any immediate symptoms, but can have long term effects on your health and you can still pass them on to your partner (or get them from your partner) without seeing any symptoms. In a lot of cases, men who contract HIV (and other STIs) are unaware that they do, which increases the chance of transmission to others. Also, having some STIs can make you more susceptible to HIV. One in two sexually active people will contract an STI by the time they’re 25 – so getting tested, using condoms and getting an HPV vaccine, which prevents one of the most common STIs are all great steps for guys to take.
You also have a big role in planning for pregnancy. If you’re not sure your partner is using birth control, you need to. When you bring up the conversation about what method she’s using, it might also be a good time to offer to help pay for it (or encourage her to get health insurance to cover it). These conversations are important ones to have – for both of you – and are part and parcel of good short and long term relationships. Making sure you don’t have any surprises is part of your sexual health, too.
As men grow older, it becomes more likely that they need medical reproductive health care. These can include infertility services, a vasectomy if you are solid in knowing you will never want to get a partner pregnant in the future, and reproductive cancer screening. diagnosis or treatment. Getting started with protecting your sexual health now will help set the habit to continue to do so in the future.
Beforeplay.org’s health center locator can help you find a good spot for receiving sexual health services, including low cost clinics that serve both women’s and men’s sexual health needs. More than one-third of men aged 18-44 don’t have a regular doctor and haven’t seen a doctor in the past year. It’s never too late or too early to start taking control of your sexual and reproductive health, find a health center in your area today to get the care you need – and don’t forget to just talk about it.
January 5, 2015