Taking Holistic Care of Your Sexual Health — It’s More Than STI Screenings

Carbon Health Editorial Team
March 23, 2022
6 mins

Let’s talk about sex! 

Good health has many integrated parts — and sexual wellness is a key factor. However, many people feel uncomfortable about discussing this aspect of their personal life with a primary care provider unless they are experiencing something like an STI or a pregnancy. And while these are important topics to discuss with your provider, they are just two pieces of a much larger puzzle. Relationships, mental health, libido, menstrual cycles and menopause, and sexual orientation and identity all play a role when it comes to your overall well-being. 

The World Health Organization defines sexual health like this: “A state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality, it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected, and fulfilled.” 

When it comes to your sexual health, no question should feel too small or too awkward to bring up with your healthcare team. Trust us, no topic related to your physical or mental health will make your doctor uncomfortable —  if it’s a concern for you, they want to discuss it and help you live as healthily as possible. Carbon Health medical professionals offer inclusive, judgment-free care and are always available.

Here are some topics you might have on your mind regarding your sexual health. Schedule an appointment to discuss these concerns with your primary care provider, and start working toward all your health goals today. 

Birth Control 

When it comes to birth control, finding one that both feels right and meets your body’s needs can be a process of trial and error. Your provider is a wonderful resource when it comes to navigating the complex world of contraceptives. Whether you’re new to the birth control game or a seasoned vet, your provider can answer any questions or concerns you might have about your overall sexual health and well-being.

Remember, birth control can do more than just prevent pregnancy: many methods can also help manage periods, balance hormone levels, and provide other health benefits. Read more

Safer Sex Practices 

Many people feel anxious or uncomfortable about discussing safer sex, and that’s understandable, seeing as how sex is treated as a “taboo topic” in many situations. But there’s no reason to be shy about this topic when you’re talking to someone you are, or may be, having sex with. Your primary care provider can walk you through all your safer-sex options, help you come up with a plan that works best for your body, and share tips on how to discuss concerns and practices with your partner. Read more

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Sexual Orientation and Identity

Although LGBTQ+ communities encompass people of all kinds, one thing many have in common is a lack of access to high-quality healthcare. Sometimes, concerns over whether a provider will simply listen and support them is a barrier to getting care. And unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ people still experience discrimination in healthcare environments. At Carbon Health, we stand for healthcare for all, and that means providing a safe place where everyone can feel seen and heard. Having a provider who knows you and your body and can help support you is a game changer when it comes to your overall health and well-being. Read more

Libido and Mental Health

Our sex lives often take a hit as our lives get busier. But a lower-than-normal interest in sex may also indicate an underlying emotional, relationship, or mental health issue. Talking to a professional about your concerns is a good first step when it comes to figuring out what’s going on. Read more

Low Libido 

Just not feeling any sexual spark? According to researchers, this is not uncommon. A recent study found that about 15 percent of men say they’ve had extended periods of reduced sexual desire, or low libido. And that rate is more than double among women. It’s normal for our sex drives to wax and wane throughout our lives. But having a lower-than-normal libido may indicate an underlying health problem — especially if its onset is sudden, if it persists for a long time, or if the issue keeps recurring. Read more.

Intimacy Issues

According to a report by Johns Hopkins University, relationships often follow a pattern of intimacy that naturally wanes over time. Stress, children, career pressures, shifting priorities, and partnership problems (along with the added stress, these days, of life during the COVID-19 pandemic) replace the excitement of a new relationship. Sex becomes routine or irregular — and intimacy can break down without conscious effort and communication. But experts emphasize that encountering intimacy roadblocks is a normal part of any healthy relationship — and there are steps partners can take to reignite the spark. Read more.

Masturbation

Masturbation isn’t always easy to talk about. It’s a private activity, and for a lot of people, the topic feels awkward or embarrassing — there’s still a lot of unwarranted stigma attached to it. But masturbation is a normal and healthy part of human sexual expression. Planned Parenthood cites research saying that about 70 percent of adult men and more than half of adult women masturbate at least occasionally. It can even be an effective method of self-care! Read more.

Sex After 60

With age comes wisdom. The older you get, the more you come to know and love yourself. You have experience with your body’s needs, and you know what to ask for. You’re comfortable with the person you’ve become, and perhaps you’re ready to share that with someone new. But whether you’re 28 or 82, being sexually active with new partners may bring concerns. Read more.

Menopause

Menopause is a natural biological process. But as you may have heard from people who have been through it, menopause symptoms can be the source of serious discomfort (to say the least). When you’re perimenopausal, it’s normal for these physical symptoms to take a toll on your energy levels and your emotional health. The average American woman reaches menopause at around 51 years old, but you’ll most likely begin to experience signs and symptoms that your body is transitioning several years before then. Read more

HIV Treatment as Prevention 

Treatment as prevention, or TasP, is a concept in public health that promotes treatment (medication) as a way to prevent and reduce the likelihood of HIV illness, death, and transmission from an infected individual to others. If you’re living with HIV and you take medication exactly as prescribed, adhere to regular follow-ups with your physician, and are tested regularly to make sure your viral load is undetectable, TasP is highly effective at preventing the spread of the virus. Read more.

Find a Primary Care Provider Who’s Right for You

A relationship with a trusted healthcare provider is a key resource for sexual (and overall) health. Make an appointment today with your Carbon Health primary care provider to talk about whatever is on your mind. They are there for you, to answer your questions and support you in reaching all your health and wellness goals. Download the Carbon Health app or visit carbonhealth.com.

Carbon Health Editorial Team

The Carbon Health Editorial Team is a group of writers, content creators, and thought leaders who are here to empower you to take charge of your health.

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