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How men can maintain optimal sexual health

Sexual health causes concern in many men. Yet, many are not comfortable talking to their doctors about sexual problems. Others erroneously shift blame to their female partners, or find excuses to mask their problems all together. Sexual health ranges from being able to enjoy sex, to sexually transmitted infections.

Sexual enjoyment is controlled by incompletely understood mechanisms that are both physical and psychological. Male problems with sexual enjoyment may include problems with getting and/or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction), and loss of interest in sex. If such problems occur, consultation with Gynecologists, Urologists and Psycho-sexual health specialists provides ample help.

Healthy lifestyles can negate most sexual problems. A good diet combined with physical exercises help maintain an optimal body mass index (BMI). Men with high BMIs are prone to cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. These have a knock on effect on sexual health, including erectile dysfunction and poor sperm quality which may affect fertility.

Cigarette smoking and use of other illicit drugs has toxic effects on both sexual function and fertility. It’s best to stop smoking or drastically cut down on the number of cigarettes per day (additional beneficial health effects accrue). Excessive indulgence in alcoholic beverages has similar effects. Moderate drinking within health limits is safe, but once the line towards alcoholism is crossed, sexual function takes a back step.

Sexually transmitted infections are passed on through vaginal, anal or oral sex; and in some cases through genital touching. Such infections have immediate sexual health effects, but longer term effects are common with infections like Syphilis and HIV. Common symptoms include penile discharge and sores, swollen testes and pain while passing urine. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all. Men can take several measures to avoid sexual infections. The surest effective measure is not to have sex at all! But this is hardly practical. The next best thing is to be faithful to only one uninfected sexual partner, who’s having sex only with you. In all other scenarios, always use a condom correctly and every time. The so called ‘natural’ or ‘lambskin’ condoms marketed for heightened pleasure do not protect against sexual infections. It must be latex condoms every time. You must set the ground rules before any sexual encounter, it’s up to you to make sure you are protected.

If you suspect you have a sexual infection, please get tested. If found to be infected, you must inform your partner so they too can get tested and treated. And if getting into a new relationship, get both you and your partner screened for sexual infections before you start having sex. It may not be very romantic, but again better safe than sorry. again better safe than sorry.

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