Part of having a healthy sex life is knowing when not to have sex, be it for your mental or physical health, or that of your partner. We spoke to some experts on sex and sexual health about the times you should really abstain from having sex for emotional or physical reasons.
If you're healing from a UTI, hold off.
When you're at the height of a UTI, you're probably too uncomfortable to be in the mood. But even once you start to feel better, you probably shouldn't jump back in the sack right away.
According to Diana Rodriguez at Everyday Health, you should wait until you've finished your antibiotics and have been symptom-free for at least two weeks. Otherwise, you run the risk of worsening the UTI before it's fully gone, as well as causing yourself pain or discomfort. When seeking treatment for a UTI or any other kind of infection or ailment down there, talk to your doctor about when you can safely resume your normal sexual activities.
Getting a bikini wax can make skin sensitive.
Getting a bikini wax can make your skin sensitive. That's why experts recommend waiting 24 hours after getting a fresh wax to have sex to give yourself plenty of time to heal.
Sex during pregnancy is usually fine, barring a few exceptions.
Normally, sex during pregnancy is safe because the foetus is protected by its amniotic sac and a mucus plug that blocks the cervix. According to Dr. Laura Riley at Parents.com, however, there are a few conditions that could threaten those safeguards, including ruptured membranes, abnormal location or movement of the placenta, a cervix that opens prematurely, certain STIs, or a history of premature labour.
If you're pregnant, be sure to communicate with your doctor to ensure there's no reason you should abstain from sex during your pregnancy.
Having sex to avoid conflict – rather than because you want it – is unfair to you.
"Having sex to keep the peace, to be agreeable in order to please a partner or to prevent an argument is the worst kind of idea," Domina Franco, a professional sex educator, told INSIDER. If your partner is pressuring you to have sex, or you have reason to fear there may be consequences, emotional or otherwise if you refuse sex - that's coercion.
"Someone badgering you to have sex until they wear you down into a 'yes' is a sure recipe for disaster," Franco said. Consent needs to be enthusiastic and freely given.
Along the same lines, you should never be the one pressuring someone into sex. If your partner seems resistant or just not into it, the solution is not to try to convince them. Pay attention to their comfort level.
If you've given birth recently, be sure to wait a bit.
Although there is technically no required waiting time to have sex after giving birth, the Mayo Clinic recommends four to six weeks. Having sex before that time can invite complications and disrupt the healing process.
If you have a yeast infection, it's best to hold off.
Having sex with a yeast infection can make your symptoms worse and can cause pain and infection. Additionally, you can possibly spread the infection to your partner, especially if they have a vagina.
Drugs and alcohol can impair your judgment, and thus your ability to consent.
If you've and/or your partner have been partying, proceed with caution. "There would be a lot of people who may say having sex when under the influence of drugs or alcohol isn't a great idea. In some ways I agree - because I don't know that you can fully consent if your decision-making abilities are blurred," Franco said.
If your partner's judgment might be impaired, be the one to cool things down - don't take advantage of their loosened inhibitions. As for you, it's important to know yourself and how substances affect you. Check in with yourself before any potential sexual encounter and decide if this is something you would still do if you weren't under the influence.
If you're too intoxicated to have that self-check-in? Franco noted an important caveat.
"I also think there is a thin line in that rationale [that having sex under the influence is a bad idea] that leads folks to victim-blaming survivors of sexual assault. Point blank, it is not your fault if you are sexually assaulted - whether you have been drinking and or doing drugs or you're stone cold sober. Society needs to put the fault of rape where it belongs ... on rapists."
Having unprotected sex before a pap test can mess with the results.
Think about this before your next appointment - apparently having unprotected sex up to 48 hours before your OB-GYN appointment can have some unexpected consequences.
"Semen can interfere with any swabs taken for evaluation,"Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, told Glamour.
In fact, the existence of semen can mess with the results of a pap smear. Experts told Glamour that having protected sex is totally OK if you're not getting a pap smear but even having sex with a condom on can throw off the test. It's best to let your doctor know and avoid having sex for up to 48 hours before.
If you're not protected, it's best to stop.
You may think it's no big deal, but running out of contraception - no matter what kind you prefer - should be a stopping point for sex. Even having unprotected sex once can put you at risk for STIs or pregnancy.
It's best to wait it out and make a pharmacy run before getting it on.
Coercion does not mean healthy sex.
Even outside of situations of pressure or coercion, you should ultimately never have sex unless you want to.
"At the core, I believe you shouldn't have sex unless you feel excited and present for the sexual interaction," Franco said. There is never a reason you "have to" engage in any kind of sex act if you don't really want to - even if you've had sex with this partner before, or because you've already performed a different sex act on them or anyone else. Not even if they claim to have blue balls.
"Don't ever have sex because someone else thinks you should. Have sex because you're attracted to the person, it's consensual and seems like fun...and of course...always use protection!" Franco said.