When a Good Time Goes Bad
Sex is great for your health — it can lower your blood pressure, improve sleep, and boost your immune system. But doing the deed also has its risks. A 2010 UK survey, for example, found that one-third of the adult population had been injured during sex.
Here are six potential sexual hazards and tips to avoid them.
Can men “break” their penises even though there are no bones in the penis? Absolutely. A penial fracture occurs when the erect penis is suddenly bent, causing a tear in the tunica albuginea membrane. This membrane surrounds the core of the penis — the area responsible for erection — and if it tears, blood leaks out to the surrounding tissue. Men who experience a penial fracture will hear a cracking sound followed by severe pain, swelling, and dark bruising of the penis.
This injury usually occurs among men who are participating in vigorous sex and in some cases, aggressive masturbation. However, a penial fracture can occur anytime the penis is thrust against a solid surface like the perineum — the area between the anus and the scrotum in men and the area between the anus and the vulva in women.
If you do experience a penial fracture, seek immediate medical attention. Your doctor can usually detect a fracture with a physical exam and surgery is usually recommended. If left untreated, a penial fracture can result in erectile dysfunction and deformity.
Vaginal Cuts and Tears
Women who are sexually active usually experience a vaginal cut or tear at least once in their lives. These lacerations can make sex uncomfortable or painful, but they usually aren’t serious. Vaginal dryness is the most common cause of vaginal cuts and tears. Whether you’re experiencing vaginal dryness because of insufficient arousal, hormone changes, or stress, there are ways to relieve dryness:
Use lubricants. Bring a bottle of water-based lubricant into the bedroom to relieve dryness. Be sure to check out the label beforehand as some ingredients like glycerin or lidocaine can cause irritation or discomfort. Here are six other things you should know about lubricants.
Change positions. Woman-on-top is the best position to reduce the risk of vaginal tears.
Don’t forget foreplay. Engaging in foreplay before intercourse can help you lubricate on your own, preventing tears. If the cuts are substantial, don’t stop bleeding, or become infected, see your doctor immediately.
Sex is a common cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women. During sex, bacteria from the genital area and anus can enter a woman’s urethra, bladder, or kidneys causing UTI symptoms like frequent and painful urination, low back pain, and abdominal pain. Prevent sex-related UTIs by practicing these tips:
- Urinate before and after sex. This clears your urethra of bacteria and relieves bladder pressure. Be sure to empty your entire bladder each time you visit the bathroom.
- Wash your hands before and after sex, and after contact with the rectum.
- Drink lots of fluids. Upping your fluid intake, especially water, can help flush out any bacteria by diluting your urine and promoting frequent urination.
Headaches caused by sexual activity aren’t usually cause for concern, but sometimes they can signal serious health problems like low blood pressure, brain tumor, or bleeding into the brain.
Sexual headaches occur in both men and women typically before or during an orgasm, or immediately following sex. These headaches can feel like a sudden throbbing pain, or a dull ache that slowly builds as sex intensifies.
Consult your doctor if it’s the first time you’ve experienced this type of headache, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as stiff neck, vomiting, confusion, or trouble with coordination.
Vigorous sexual activity nearly triples a person’s heart attack risk in the hours immediately afterward, especially if the person isn’t very active, according to a 2011 analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. While vigorous sex can trigger a heart attack in otherwise inactive people, it doesn’t happen very often. Here are some red flags to watch for:
- Chest pain that lasts a few minutes, or goes away and then returns. The pain’s severity varies and may feel like severe pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the chest area.
- Shortness of breath that appears around the same time as the pain, or before the pain starts.
- Irregular or racing heartbeat, also known as heart palpitations.
- Other signs may include fatigue, nausea, back or stomach pain, and light-headedness.
Sex will rarely cause a stroke, unless you have other risk factors such as a minor heart defect called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). Typically a PFO does not cause symptoms or complications, but stroke during sex can occur in people with PFO. The link between PFO and stroke is still unclear, and research is ongoing. According to the Cleveland Clinic, less than one percent of people with PFO have a stroke.
Signs of stroke include:
- Difficulty speaking, slurring words, or inability to speak.
- A severe headache that strikes out of nowhere.
- Feeling weak or numb on one side of your body, especially if it happens suddenly.
- Coordination trouble on one side of your body.
- Seeing double or difficulty focusing on people and objects.
Last Updated: 08/06/14. By Nancie George
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