Image courtesy Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Image courtesy Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

You need to do more than ‘practice safe sex’ to be sexually healthy | Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

The World Health Organization has a broad definition of sexual health, which includes not only physical safety, but mental and social well-being.

  • Wednesday, October 16, 2019 12:17pm
  • Life

The following was written by Besh Gichuhi, a public health nurse, for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department blog:

September was Sexual Health Month. Sexual health is part of what makes us whole. We all have a role to play in encouraging healthy sexual behavior.

The first thing that usually comes to mind with sexual health is STDs. Of course, the absence of these infections is important, but it is by no means the full story.

The World Health Organization has a much broader definition of sexual health, one that emphasizes the positive aspects of sex. It says sexual health is “a state of physical, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It 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.”

That’s so much more than just the absence of disease! We will need more than condoms to advance sexual health in our communities.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Talk about it! We need to normalize discussions about sexual health. Avoiding talking about sexual health gets in the way of accessing care and having healthy conversations.

Since sexual health is such a complex subject in our culture and communities, we can take steps to normalize the topic.

WHO RECOMMENDS THAT WE:

  • Promote respect and acceptance of gender differences. Learn 10 Ways to be an ally and friend from GLAAD.
  • Support policies that stand against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender. GLSEN has a great Guide for Schools.
  • Foster skills like decision-making, communication, assertiveness and negotiation that enhance personal relationships with your loved ones and as part of curriculum in schools.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your sexual health. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your provider, ask around for recommendations. Your provider is an important partner for you, performing regular check-ups and screenings.

WHAT ABOUT STDS?

Talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested if you have concerns, but CDC has recommendations:

  • Any one 13 to 64 years should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • If you’re pregnant, you should get tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B early in pregnancy.
  • All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested annually for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. They may also benefit from more frequent HIV testing.
  • People who have unprotected sex or share injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV annually.

THE GOOD NEWS IS STDS ARE PREVENTABLE! A FEW THINGS YOU CAN DO:

  • Use condoms.
  • Reduce your number of sexual partners to decrease your risk for STDs.
  • Talk with your partner(s) about STDs and staying safe before having sex. Remember, protecting your health is your responsibility.
  • Practice mutual monogamy. This means you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you.
  • Get vaccinated. The human papilloma virus vaccine prevents some of the most common types of HPV. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and can help you avoid HPV-related health problems like genital warts and some cancers.
  • Get tested. Some STDs don’t have symptoms but still cause health problems.

STD RESOURCES IN PIERCE COUNTY

  • Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
  • Planned Parenthood – Tacoma Health Center – Puyallup Health Center.
  • Sea Mar Community Health Center – Puyallup and Tacoma Locations.



Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Life

Local Sasquatch event to be live-streamed

Due to the coronavirus, the convention has to be put online — but that means more people can participate in the live-stream presentations.

Empty Bowls again raising money to feed the hungry

The annual event is this Friday, Feb. 28, at Enumclaw High.

What happens if the novel coronavirus spreads here? | Public Health Insider

Even though a severe outbreak may not happen, it’s smart to start preparing now.

Aging Mastery Program returns to Enumclaw | Enumclaw Senior Center

The free program has limited space, so reserve your seat soon.

Talks continue about local affordable housing

The next meeting is scheduled for March 18.

Six things you don’t (but should) know about STIs | Public Health Insider

STIs are becoming more prevalent, so make sure you brush up on what you think you know.

Buckley clothing bank hosts March fundraiser

The March 27 event will feature a catered dinner, a dessert dash, silent auction, fashion show and live music.

Read with a princess at the Buckley Library | Pierce County Library System

Daffodil Princesses will be visiting the local library Saturday, March 7.

Despite high level of attention on COVID-19, your risk remains low | Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

The flu is much more dangerous, as there have been 12 deaths in Pierce County due to the illness.

Tacoma’s Cora Voce choir comes to Enumclaw

The event is Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. at the Calvary Presbyterian Church.

Enumclaw Eagle Scouts honored

Christopher Morgan and Gordon Crosby received the top honor early last month.

At a glance | February 2020 events

A sock drive, special olympics event, and iSTEAM.