Plan your sexual health check this January

sex

As soon as you start having sex you should always be conscious of the emotional, psychological, social and biological dimensions of it.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

I am expecting Joel and Fiona at the Sexology Clinic this week. This will be their tenth year of visiting the clinic every first week of a new month. Now in their eleventh year of marriage and with three children to show for it, I got to know the couple in a premarital class where I was invited to give a talk on how to spice sex in marriage.

 Their wedding happened soon after and they flew to the coast for their honeymoon. As fate would have it however, their first sexual encounter turned out disastrous and they broke their honeymoon on the second day and flew back to Nairobi. 

I had left my contacts to the attendees of the premarital class and that is how they managed to trace me and the Sexology Clinic during the honeymoon crisis.

“We have tried and failed, we can’t have sex,” Joel lamented that time amid obvious and palpable tension between them. They were both naïve sexually having lived their values of not having sex before marriage. A three week sex coaching classes did it and their sex lives took off.

“Now we are good and enjoying it,” Fiona said in their last coaching visit then, “I believe we are all set for the rest of the marriage and we do not have to see you again.” They both burst out laughing. The decision to seek sexual health services is always a difficult one and even after all the interactions we had had they still hoped that they wouldn’t have to come back to the clinic.

“If I see you once in a year for your annual sexual health check I will be okay,” I said to which they looked at each other and then at me frowning. Like many people who are sexually active they had never heard of annual sexual health check. Many people only seek sexual health services when crisis happens and many times it is too late to reverse the damage.

“I hope that is not another term for a three week sex coaching session,” Joel said amid staccato laughter. I took the chance to explain what annual sexual health check is and why it is so important for anyone who is sexually active.

For one, as soon as you start having sex you should always be conscious of the emotional, psychological, social and biological dimensions of it. These dimensions keep changing by the day and at one point or another a sexually active person will feel distressed about sex and this can arise from any of the four domains. Emotional disconnection makes sex meaningless and a mere physical act. Psychological issues around sex lead to psychological stress, anxiety and even depression. Social issues, on the other hand, are about relationships and culture and how they influence our sexuality. The biological issues are those that relate to physical diseases that impact sex.

During annual medical check-ups, your doctor explores all these dimensions through structured enquiry. There are individual sessions followed by couple sessions. The enquiry is followed by a physical examination. The doctor examines all organs but more specifically the sex organs in more depth.

A number of laboratory tests are also done. Diseases that never present obvious symptoms and yet lead to long term damage are tested for including Hepatitis, Chlamydia, syphilis, HIV, cervical cancer, prostate cancer and sex hormone abnormalities. Ultrasounds and X-rays are done to detect fibroids and, where applicable, to check if fallopian tubes are blocked. Breast examination is also done.

The importance of annual sexual health check is that diseases, emotional, psychological and social problems are identified early and if need be interventions are undertaken. Many couples also review their contraceptive choices during the check-up. Additionally, it is a time to give feedback to your partner about the ended year and to formulate your sex and relationship targets for the New Year.

“So my key objective for the year is to shed off 10 kg of body weight,” Joel said in their last annual check-up. He had gained too much weight and his BMI was bordering on obesity. Excessive body weight is one causes of erection failure and loss of desire for sex. Fiona, on the other hand, had grown rather conservative and lacked energy to explore avenues for spicing up her sex life in marriage. She took up the challenge and promised to surprise me in the next check-up.

If you are sexually active, whether married or not, you definitely want to have a sexual health check-up this year. Visit a sexual health clinic and do it. You want to be sure that you are sexually healthy as you start off your 12 month journey of 2022. In case of any problem you want to have it resolved immediately rather than wait to deal with complications; for a stitch in time saves nine.

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