It doesn’t matter how many partners or how often you put yourself out there but if you’re living an active love life, at all, then it’s important to know the ways in which you have to be aware of your own health and to take care of it. Here, we’re going to look at the ways that women should be health-conscious when they’re dating, and the various complications you should do your best to both mitigate and treat.
Educate yourself on the risks of unprotected sex
Of course, not all dating is going to involve any kind of sexual activity. However, there’s certainly a good chance that it might happen at some stage along the way. For that reason, there really is no excuse for not being at least aware of the various risks of unprotected sexual activity. This can include not just pregnancy scares, but sexually transmitted infections, as well. At least by being aware of the various symptoms of common sexual health issues, you can act more quickly on them and get the treatment you need, should the need arise. Of course, another reason to educate yourself is to make sure that you’re taking those risks seriously and protecting yourself, too.
The use of contraceptives
If you want to date without the risk of pregnancy, it’s important to recognize that there is no such thing as a 0% risk unless there are factors like infertility involved. Abstaining from vaginal sex is practically the only way to prevent the chances of pregnancy. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to reduce your chances significantly. Get to learn about the different kinds of contraceptives available, from condoms to taking the pill to getting an implant. There are not only different levels of effectiveness to different contraceptives. There are also health considerations and side effects to consider, as well. For instance, being on the birth control pill can result in things like weight gain, decreased libido, and mood changes in some women.
Practicing safe sex
When we talk about safe sex, we’re not just talking about birth control. We’re also talking about mitigating your risks of catching things such as sexually transmitted infections. Unlike with contraceptives, sometimes just avoiding vaginal sex isn’t enough to decrease your risk to 0%, as all forms of sexual activity can lead to a risk of sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, most doctors agree there is no such thing as truly safe sex. However, there are ways to limit your risk of STIs, such as using protection, like a condom. In fact, it’s best to follow the tip of “BYC” or bring your own condom, and insisting on its use when you’re with a partner.
The importance of getting tested
There is often something of a stigma around getting tested for STIs while dating, but there shouldn’t be. While risk factors may change the likelihood, you can catch an STI from one partner, it’s not limited to people who have multiple sexual partners. When it comes to things like getting tested for HIV, it’s important to make sure that you’re testing early and regularly while you are sexually active to make sure that you can catch and act on any present STI as quickly as possible. What’s more, you should get yourself tested both before and after you engage in sexual activity with a new partner. This way, you can make sure you’re reducing your risk of either contracting or spreading an STI as best as possible.
Make sure you practice good hygiene
Aside from STIs, health complications for both you and your partner can be affected by the level of hygiene you ensure. However, there are a lot of people who are confused as to what exactly “good hygiene” means when it comes to your reproductive organs. Products such as over-the-counter douches and vaginal sprays are being widely marketed as a form of hygiene, but there is evidence to suggest that these can do more harm than good, as can things like scented tampons and sanitary towels. In general, you want to avoid introducing too many chemicals to your sensitive reproductive organs, as they can lead to issues such as pelvic inflammatory diseases and infections. It’s better to simply clean gently with water.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself emotionally
The dating world doesn’t just affect you physically, it can affect you emotionally, as well. The majority of people who date will face some trouble during it, such as being rejected or having trouble finding a partner that they can connect with. While there are ways to better narrow your search (such as using dating sites that allow you to date people based on common interests of lifestyles), you should still be prepared to get knocked back a few times. It’s important to make sure that you’re taking time for your mental health, allowing yourself to relax, to boost your self-esteem, and make sure that you’re not too badly rocked by a bad dating experience or two.
Managing pressure and anxiety
If you experience any kind of anxiety, then it’s only natural that dating can, to some degree, contribute to it. Anxiety can often mean we expect the worst out of a situation, whether it’s how we are perceived during a date or the ways in which a potential partner might let us down, such as by cheating. While there’s nothing wrong with being wary, to some degree, it’s important to keep control over anxiety by recognizing it and addressing it. Practicing mindfulness can be an essential tool in doing just that. It can help you recognize the motions of your own mind, such as learning the triggers for your anxiety, with which you can then go on to prevent them from having their full effect.
Talk sexual health with your partner
It might not feel entirely sexy to bring up the topic of safe sex, contraceptives, and STI testing with your partner, but it is something that’s necessary to do all the same. Before you engage in any sexual activity with a partner, it can be important to have a frank discussion about your expectations regarding protecting your sexual health. If a partner isn’t willing to meet your standards for safe sex, then it’s much better to simply make sure that you don’t engage with them sexually. Someone who isn’t willing to take the time to protect themselves or you is not someone who is worth putting your trust and safety in the hands of.
Be proactive with reproductive health checks
Your reproductive health isn’t entirely about sex or the consequences that can arise as a result of unsafe sex. There are also conditions that you should be aware of and make sure that you’re getting tested for regardless of whether you’re sexually active or not. Under many insurance plans, treatments such as screening tests for cervical cancer and colorectal cancer can be arranged at no cost. You typically don’t need to arrange for these scans all that often, once every three years is what is typically recommended. If you don’t know where to find these services at low or no cost, check your local family planning clinic for more information.
While it might not exactly be related to your reproductive health, it is important to keep in mind that it’s worth putting in the extra effort to stay safe while you’re exploring the dating world. Though most people you will meet will have benign intentions, it is important to know how to stay safe. This includes making sure that you don’t share too much personal information through dating apps and making sure you always choose to date in a public place, preferably somewhere you are familiar with the staff if you need help. Overall, make sure that you listen to your gut first and foremost. If a situation does not feel comfortable, then you should extract yourself from it as soon as you can.
Recognizing red flags
It can feel like quite a leap from thinking that someone has slightly aggressive or controlling tendencies to seeing them as red flags for abusive behavior. However, when it comes to dating and relationships, you don’t have to meet the same standard of proof as you would need in a court of law. You don’t need to prove beyond a doubt that someone could be a potentially abusive partner, for instance, you just need to make sure that you know the red flags you should be keeping an eye out for. Put your safety first over the feelings of the person you’re worried about. You don’t have to explain yourself to stop dating, after all.
There are health consequences to living a healthy love life, just as our health ties to our diet and exercise. It’s just a part of living, so be sure you’re doing what you can to stay educated on your sexual health and how you can keep yourself safe while living your life.