Swell’s theme for September is Recharge, Renew, Reset. It’s been a rough year, rife with uncertainty, but new seasons offer us a welcome moment to clear the air. How can we wipe the slate clean this month? How can we reset sexually, emotionally, physically, politically?
So much of our lives are maddeningly up in the air this year. It feels strange to plan or reflect when everything seems out of control. But there’s one thing we can do: Take stock of our sexual wellness and hygiene. Here’s a quick autumn checklist of sexual health for vulva-owners — whether you’re partnered, single, or somewhere in between.
Check Your Nightstand
It’s comforting, relaxing, and therefore pleasure-promoting to have everything you need for sex and masturbation within reach of your bed. Check your inventory and see what needs refreshing: Do you have lube—not just any lube, but a lube that has a texture and smell you enjoy, and a lube that agrees with your body? Are you all stocked up on condoms, vibrators that work and get you off, and wipes for post-sex cleanup? Is that drawer stuffed with things you don’t use anymore, or something that reminds you of your ex? Throw that stuff out and make room for goodies that actually make you feel sexy.
While we’ve all been focused on not getting COVID-19, our other health routines might have been placed on the back burner.
Check Your After-Sex Habits
Give yourself a moment to think about your post-sex routine. Are you peeing after sex to ward away UTIs? Are you making sure to clean your vulva with water and only water? If you’re having sex with others, does the cleanup routine feel mutual and equitable? Check out our super-comprehensive guide to post-sex cleanup for more tips.
Check your OB/GYN History
While we’ve all been focused on not getting COVID-19, our other health routines might have been placed on the back burner. Take a sec to check when you last went to a gyno appointment. When was the last time you were tested for STIs? Or got a Pap smear? Have you been giving yourself breast self-exams or, if you’re over 40, getting mammograms regularly?
At this point, most people are aware that COVID status is relevant to new sexual partners. Are you prepared to get a COVID test in order to have sex, and do you feel comfortable asking someone else? Perhaps now is the time to enshrine it as an official step of the dating process, akin to getting tested for STIs together before forgoing condoms.
Check In With Yourself
Take an intentional look at your mind state and how it’s been interacting with your sex life. Chances are your mental and emotional equilibrium have been tested during *all this*—but have you taken steps to alleviate that stress? If not, now might be a great time to seek out a therapist, or try mental health exercises like breathwork and mindful meditation. If you’re partnered, it may be helpful to have a loving state-of-the-union conversation, not necessarily in reaction to a particular event, but in the spirit of preventive maintenance.