A few months ago, I wrote an article for this site about how to take care of one’s sexual health. I’ll be honest, I was pretty happy with the article; I’d done a lot of research, and I thought I had some good advice. However, one Weddingbee user in the comment section brought a glaring mistake to my attention: all my advice was focused on women!
This user’s comment was right on the money, and it made me take pause. For whatever reason (perhaps because I’m a woman), I had only looked at sexual health from my side, forgetting about the fact that there’s another group out there with their own set of parts to maintain! And, weirdly enough, my later research suggests that most of the world has forgotten this fact, too; a Google search for “men’s sexual health” offered more tips about enhancing performance and increasing stamina than actually staying healthy.
So, this story is for the male Weddingbee readers (or female readers who want to learn). After a very deep dive into assorted medical journals and men’s health magazines, I have a few suggestions that can help make your sex life safer and healthier.
1. Keep Yourself Clean
OK, I know we’re starting with an obvious one, but bear with me. There are many men out there who think standing in the shower and lathering up with soap is sufficient hygiene everywhere…but when it comes to keeping your nether regions clean, that’s simply not the case.
Unlike your feet, your shoulders, or your elbows, your “privates” spend a lot more time coming into contact with bodily fluid, which means they can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Also, the skin on your genitals is much more delicate than that on the rest of your body, and that means it requires extra special care.
Only use mild, unscented soap when washing your bits and pieces, and only lather up down there twice a week (or every other day, if you feel you really need it). If you’re uncircumcised, you’ll need to pull back your foreskin and clean the area under it, as fluids can easily become trapped and create a nasty-smelling buildup known as smegma. On top of regular washing, you’ll also want to wipe down your penis or rinse it with warm water before and after any sexual activity (including masturbation). Rinsing it after will wash away any lingering bacteria…and rinsing before is just polite.
2. Groom Carefully
Personal grooming is something that’s very, well, personal. Some men believe that “bald is beautiful,” while others don’t mind looking like the love child of Burt Reynolds and a Yeti. Obviously, how much you trim is your own business—but if you do decide to groom, it’s important to be careful.
As I mentioned earlier, your genitals come in contact with bodily fluids nearly every day (even if you’re not getting busy, sweat still happens). Many of these fluids harbor bacteria that can irritate your skin, and that irritation will get worse if you cut yourself shaving. Even a tiny nick on your scrotum can result in abscesses, cellulitis, or even gangrene! Take your time while trimming in this region, and make sure to visit a doctor if you notice any abnormalities.
3. Maintain an Active Sex Life
I feel like I shouldn’t have to tell you this twice. After all, most people out there try to maintain as active a sex life with their partner as possible. But according to a study from Harvard University, an active sex life may actually be beneficial to a man’s health, which gives you guys all the more reason to get it on.
This study collected health and lifestyle data from nearly 30,000 male volunteers from the years 1986 to 2000. According to their research, men who had an active sex life (i.e., who ejaculated regularly) had a notably lower risk of developing prostate cancer; in fact, the men who ejaculated 21 times a month had a 33% lower risk than those who ejaculated only four to seven times per month.
4. If Something’s Wrong, See a Doctor
In my opinion, this is the most important piece of advice on this list—and it’s also the one that some men will find the most difficult. Centuries of stigmatization and weird advice about what it means to be a man have made it tough for some men to seek out help. (My husband, for example, refuses to go to the doctor even when he’s really sick. We’re working on it.) And when it comes to sexual issues, particularly “embarrassing” ones like erectile dysfunction, agreeing to get help can be even tougher.
But if you are suffering from any sort of sexual problem, from a strange rash to an inability to perform, it’s important that you see a doctor and find out what’s wrong. There can be myriad of problems interfering with your sex life from an STI, to stress or psychological issues. (Did you know that ED can be an early sign of vascular problems and could put you at risk for a heart attack later in life?). Taking care of yourself and being willing to talk to a professional is one of the best things you can do to improve sexual health, so don’t be afraid to call a doctor if something seems off.