When it comes to sex, it is every married couple’s desire to enjoy it and still be able to relish the thought of it thereafter. Apart from the numerous health benefits of sex to the human system, the pleasure that comes with it is electrifying and almost unrivalled.
Notably, there are many routes to sexual satisfaction, but the mostly adopted means of reaching climax is through intercourse, which is about the most effective for men, unlike women who are more likely to reach orgasm faster through nipple or clitoral stimulation.
Sex is to be enjoyed, but understandably, there are medical conditions that prevent or forbid people from having sex, usually for some time. Meanwhile, beyond those conditions, there are some other things people do that may tamper with how much they enjoy sex and even impact on their overall health afterwards.
Some of these issues directly affect sexual performance, while some are safety tips. Hence, it may be helpful to discuss what people should take cognisance of when they are about to have a romp in the sack so as to enjoy it and guide against infection. These include:
Shaving or waxing before sex: Due to the belief that the pubic hair could breed unpleasant smell and because some people do find it disgusting, people tend to shave or use wax to remove the hair in that region. But inasmuch as being ‘clean’ in that region is seen as a good hygienic practice, experts have advised that it is advisable not to shave before sex, simply because shaving or waxing tends to open up the small pores in the skin and while the sexual activity is ongoing, body contact could lead to infection, or rashes, which could multiply in little time because the place is usually warm and so germs and bacteria could multiply there quickly. Some people shave shortly before sex because of the feeling that their partner might find the pubic hair unattractive.
A medical doctor, Emily Gibson, said removal of pubic hair would always inflame the hair follicles in that region and leave some open wounds that could cause irritation of the shaved or waxed area, leading to the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
She added, “When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely group A streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin, methicillin resistant staph aureus.
“There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant. It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair follicle inflammation papules on shaved genitals.
“Additionally, I’ve seen cellulitis, soft tissue bacterial infection without abscess of the scrotum, labia and penis from spread of bacteria from shaving or from sexual contact with strep or staph bacteria from a partner’s skin. And some clinicians are finding that freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to virus carried by mouth or genitals. It follows that there may be vulnerability to spread of other STIs as well.”
Also, a consultant endocrinologist, Dr. Michael Olamoyegun, explained that shaving before sex does not influence performance, but that “in the course of shaving, the person can sustain injuries, and during sex, there would be body contact and the ease of transmitting infection into the injured area would be high because the pubic hair serves as a form of protection.”
So, to avoid infections from creeping into your system courtesy of sex, never shave before sex.
Smoking: Apart from the negative effect smoking has on the heart, it turns out that it also has an effect on people’s sexual performance. It could reduce libido as it lowers testosterone (sex hormone) levels, hence, people are advised not to smoke before sex. The same applies to taking alcohols. According to a sexual health expert, Dr. Vijaysarathi Ramanathan, smoking could affect a man’s erection. He said, “Smoking affects almost every system/organ of the body including sexual functioning. People need to understand that erection in men has a lot to do with a healthy heart, blood vessels and good blood flow. So anything that affects blood flow will definitely affect the erection.”
In his explanation on Health Site, he said further that Nicotine, a toxic oily liquid that is the chief active constituent of tobacco, could clog the arteries and restrict blood flow to the genitals, which would affect performance.
For couples aiming at pregnancy, Ramanathan said smoking could also lower a man’s sperm count; cause genetic damage to the sperm and reduce the ability of the sperm to swim to where it will fertilise the egg. And in women, it could also cause sex-related problems, like reduced sex drive, among others.
On smoking, Olamoyegun said the constituents of cigarettes can narrow the arteries and veins that supply blood to the penis. “Smoking causes vasoconstriction; narrowing the blood vessel, so, the amount of blood that goes into the penis will reduce. And since the erection of the penis has to do with blood flow, it may affect the man’s erection.
Eating too much or taking energy drinks: No doubt, sex is an activity that is very involving and tiring, and so it is not uncommon for some people to eat before sex as if they are going to fight, especially men, all in the name of preparing for the act. But findings have shown that it is better to eat snacks, nuts or light food before doing ‘it’ to avoid feeling drowsy. In the same vein, experts have said that people should do away with heavy, gassy and high-fibre food to avoid frustrating the partner with a sluggish and poor performance eventually. So, it is not the time to eat five wraps of heavy food like someone going to the war front. Also, it has been found that it is not advisable to take energy drinks. People do this to have some energy to ‘deliver’ but experts have said the impact may not last long and that it tends to leave the person tired and weak after a (short) while.
According to Olamoyegun, sex, just like other forms of exercise, should not be preceded by eating heavy food. He said, “Normally, if you want to do any exercise, including sex, you are not supposed to take any heavy meal, because doing so could lead to aspiration in the course of the activity; the food can come from the stomach to the air pipe, and that is not good. So, it is better to eat a light food.
Masturbating: This is one tactic some people use, usually done hours before the intercourse, so as to prolong sex and it is mostly done by men who have premature ejaculation or women who crave prolonged sex. They believe that having ejaculated (men) or reached orgasm (women) moments before the sex would delay their next orgasm, but findings have shown that such can make erection almost impossible and the fact that it can kill sex drive when it comes to having real intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. Ultimately, experts have found that masturbation can be addictive, and after engaging in it for a long time, such persons tend to lose interest in real sex. So, to have a sustained healthy sexuality, masturbating should not be an option.
Meanwhile, medical experts have advised that if a woman pees after sex, it could reduce the likelihood of her getting urinary tract infection. They said the urine would have flushed out any bacteria present. It is not a must, but it is helpful.
Olamoyegun had this to say on it, “The vagina and the urethra are close, so after sex, if you pee, you flush out the bacteria before it settles into the tract. You don’t necessarily have to do that but it could be helpful too.”