Everyone has questions about their sexual health, but they may not have the willingness to bring those questions up to their doctor. To celebrate Sexual Health Month, we are answering frequently asked questions about your sexual health. Not only will this further your sexual health education, but also provide answers you might not have known you need. Some sexual health questions seem too embarrassing to ask, so we are here to ask and answer them for you.

Does a man go through menopause?

Yes! That’s right ladies, menopause isn’t just a female matter. Subtle changes in the testes may occur as early as 45-50 years old, and more dramatically after 70. Male menopausal symptoms are linked to declining testosterone levels and general aging. Unlike women, there is no distinct male menopausal period, so doctors simply refer to this as androgen (testosterone) deficiency in the aging male (ADAM). Symptoms of male menopause include erectile disfunction, a decrease in sex drive, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and an increase in body fat.

There are many ways to help with male menopause symptoms, like regular exercising, eating a balanced diet, or taking supplements. Incorporating these lifestyle changes together is a sure way to fight off menopausal symptoms and improve overall quality of life. For example, supplements can boost free testosterone and enhance sexual response, while easing the uncomfortable and discouraging symptoms of male menopause.

How often should a woman get a pelvic exam and Pap test?

A Pap test is recommended for women aged 21 and older. Pap tests detect cancerous and abnormal cervical cells and could prevent the possibility of cervical cancer. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends routine screening for women ages 21 to 65 every three years. More frequent Pap tests may be needed if you receive an abnormal test result or if you are at high risk of cervical cancer.

Is vaginal discharge normal?

Yes! There is no need to be ashamed of discharge. It is a completely normal part of a woman’s sexual health. A woman normally produces a vaginal discharge that is described as clear or slightly cloudy, non-irritating, and odor-free. During the normal menstrual cycle, the amount and consistency of discharge can vary. A change in the vagina’s balance of normal bacteria can cause abnormal discharge and can affect the smell, color, and texture. A few examples of what can cause an imbalance include birth control pills, antibiotics, STIs, and yeast infections.

Is hormone replacement therapy for menopause bad for women?

In general, hormone treatment is believed to maintain bones after menopause, in addition to relieving menopausal symptoms. Hormone treatment is used to boost hormone levels like estrogen and progesterone and relieve menopausal symptoms. Like all treatments, there may be some harmful side effects, including an increased risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer and breast cancer.

Can a woman get pregnant while breastfeeding?

Yes! Though breastfeeding may suppress or delay menstruation, you can still get pregnant. Breastfeeding used as a birth control method is not advisable since there are many factors that can influence the effectiveness of breastfeeding. If your menstrual periods have not yet returned, your baby is under the age of six months, and the baby gets nothing but breastmilk day and night, then breastfeeding can be almost 98% effective as birth control, but that 2% still exists. If you’re not ready to have Irish twins, follow your doctor’s recommendation on the appropriate birth control method to use.

Can a hysterectomy cause sexual problems for a woman?

Sadly, yes. Some women may experience changes in sexual function after a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). These changes may include a loss of desire, decreased vaginal lubrication, and decreased genital sensation. Surgery may also damage nerves and blood vessels considered critical to a woman’s sexual health. Hysterectomy’s cause the vagina to shorten so it is advised to use a slim vibrator to help stretch the tissue and make sex more pleasurable. Orgasms shouldn’t have to stop after a hysterectomy, especially if you incorporate a water-based lubricant.

Your questions about sexual health should not be an area of embarrassment or shame. They are an important part of your sexual health education! If you want to learn more about sexual health, make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for sexual health educational content!