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In Conversation with Hanx Co-Founder: Dr. Sarah Welsh.
To celebrate our Hot Girl Summer: All Girls Are Hot Girls campaign, we have been creating and sharing content that is designed to empower and encourage our community to have their best summer yet. This week, we have been chatting with our lovely friend and co-founder of sexual wellness company Hanx, Dr. Sarah Welsh. Hanx focuses on sustainable sexual health and intimate wellness, and we have been quizzing Sarah on the best ways we can look after our most intimate selves this summer. Curious to find out? Read on, honey...
1. Many of us will be getting flirty this Hot Girl Summer... how can we stay protected when it comes to sex?
We are so excited for this hot girl summer! Here at HANX, we are all about having fun whilst staying safe. When it comes to sex, many of us have had an enforced celibacy over the past year and this has made us more than ready to find intimacy again. But this isn’t a race, and our desire to connect and have sex again should be done in a safe way, at your own pace. Our top tips are:
- Have fun. Sex should be fun, and it should be something you and you partner/partners both want and enjoy. Make sure you’re all consenting to sexual activity, you’re not hurting anybody, and you talk to your partner(s) about what you and they want and like. This way we are all winners! This summer will undoubtedly be full of people releasing their pent-up frustrations after our dating and sex lives have been put on hold for a year or more. So, let’s make it good. #goodtimesarecoming
- Do what’s right for you. After a long break from sexual intimacy, you may well feel the pressure to get back into things. This isn’t a race, and everyone is different, so listen to your body and do what’s right for you at your own pace.
- Carry HANX condoms, ofc. You never know when you might need one, so by having them in your bag at all times means you won’t be caught out. The most common reason people forget to use a condom is because they don’t have one available and when you’re ‘in the moment,’ this is not something people want to stop for. Condoms are the only form of contraception that protect against unwanted pregnancy as well as protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Always use a condom with a new partner, and until you’ve both/all has a sexual health screen. Whether you’re on the regular, or need some for a ‘just in case’ moment, stock up at hanxofficial.com.
- Use a HANX condom. And if you have a condom, this does not always mean you’ll use it… So, the next step is getting into the habit of always using a condom with a new partner. This can be an awkward conversation, but nothing is more awkward than telling your partner you’ve passed on an STI or an unplanned pregnancy. Our research shows that people are impressed when a partner whips out a condom, as it shows they care about their body and are taking control of their sexual health. This is attractive in a partner, and with a brand like HANX you’re giving off all the right signals ;)
- Have regular sexual health check-ups. Many STIs are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t have any symptoms and you may be unknowingly infected and infecting others if you’ve not had a sexual health check-up. We’d recommend at least once a year, or if you know you’ve been in contact with someone who has an STI, you don’t use a condom or a condom breaks, or you are having any symptoms.
2. How will I know if I need to get checked out for a potential STI?
If you’re sexually active, we would recommend having regular sexual health check-ups, roughly every year or every time you have unprotected sex with a new partner.
If you’re experiencing symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge (such a s a change in the colour or smell), itching or soreness in the genital area, pelvic pain, or any abnormal genital skin changes, you should see a medical professional for assessment. This can be your GP, sexual health professional or GUM clinic. The healthcare professional will likely have a chat about your symptoms and sexual history, do an examination (see what to expect here), and take swab tests to send off to the lab to look for any infections. They may also take a blood test. However, you won’t be made to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and the professionals are there to help, so don’t be shy and make sure you get the help you need. ☺
You might also hear from a clinic or a partner that you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for an STI. In this case, you’ll be invited for a screening and quite possibly treatment for the infection too. If you’ve tested positive, you’ll have the option to talk with any partners about your results, or you can have the healthcare professionals anonymously contact them on your behalf.
3. What about non-sexually transmitted infections (hello Covid)- how can I protect myself?
Covid-19 is not going anywhere in a hurry, as we all sadly know so well. This means, we need to learn to live with it and minimise our risk.
Covid spreads through droplets in the air and being intimate with someone is likely to mean you’re physically close, and probably kissing. Even if you’ve been living under a rock the past year, you’d know that kissing is most definitely not a good idea if you have Covid (or any respiratory infection for that matter… the flu is also not the one to be kissing around either). Stay safe, get checked for infection if you’re having any symptoms, wear a mask in public spaces, use your common sense, and get vaccinated.
We are not saying don’t kiss, because where is the fun in that. But essentially, if you’re sensible and aware of any symptoms, you shouldn’t be intimate with anyone if you are indeed showing symptoms of Covid or have been in touch with someone who has tested positive.
4. Will incorporating lube into my sex life benefit me- and does it really matter what ingredients it contains?
Yes, and yes!
Lube is a sexual wellness must for everyone! It’s a common misconception that only people who are not aroused, or are post-menopausal, or have a sexual health issue, require lubricant. This is simply not the case. Lube helps with intimacy and pleasure for us all, enhancing sexual experiences.
However, the ingredients are very important as if you choose one full of sugars, and fake chemicals, this can cause irritation and problems down there. It’s quite possible that a flavoured lube will disrupt your vaginal flora (also known as the vaginal microbiome), meaning that you’re more susceptible to infections such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis (BV).
The HANX lubricant is water-based, long lasting, gentle, vegan certified, paraben free and like all HANX products, endorsed by medical professionals. No nasties, and condom-compatible; everyone’s a winner!
5. All that summer sweating means I want to stay as fresh as possible- how should I be keeping clean down there?
This is a super important question and something that comes up in the HANX community a lot.
It’s a common misconception that to stay clean and fresh we must wash our vagina with soap and scented products. However, this is the exact opposite of what we should do!
The vulva (the skin outside the vagina) can we gently washed, but the inside of the vagina should not be disrupted. By using scented and soapy products in your vagina, you will likely disrupt the natural environment down there and be at risk of getting infections.
As touched upon in the previous question, our vaginal microbiome or vaginal flora, is something that is very important, but many people do not know about it. “Microbiome” is the name given to the microorganisms (bacteria) living somewhere, so the vaginal microbiome is the environment of bacteria living in your vagina. The vaginal microbiome can affect your ability to fight off infections, such as thrush and BV as well as more serious pelvic infections, but it can also affect your likelihood of getting pregnant or miscarrying a pregnancy. The vaginal microbiome has also been linked to developing certain types of cancers. So not something we should ignore!
So, stay clear of the products that claim to keep you clean down there! Stick with simple warm water to clean your genital area and remember- the vagina is self-cleaning ☺
You can check out Hanx here.
Shop our fragrance free soap bar (perfect for cleaning your vulva) HERE.