4 Unhelpful Habits I'm Giving Up This Year to Have a Healthier Sex Life

Dear reader, I'm going to go out on a limb here and make myself a little bit vulnerable with a personal confession. Or rather, since confession makes it feel like I'm about to plop myself in the middle of a teen fiction plot, let's go with personal truth. Here goes: Unlike almost every other person I know in my age bracket—guys and girls alike—I didn't have sex for the first time until after I graduated college. Sure, I had boyfriends and flings and dabbled in other intimate practices, and it's not that I had specific moral pull preventing me from having sex, I just simply hadn't found anyone I really wanted to do it with. Of course, even though I knew I shouldn't feel weird or different about being a virgin at 20-something, I couldn't help feeling like an outsider.

Fast-forward past college graduation, moving across the country from Minnesota to San Francisco for my first job, and then a year and another new job later to Los Angeles, I had a lot going on. There's a lot of self-growth and self-learning that occurs as you sever those strong ties with where you grew up and dependency on your family, and create a brand-new life for yourself. Suddenly, which I'm sure many of you relate to, I was violently thrust into this confusing and daunting orb in which each and every day consisted of just trying to figure it out—from my financial well-being to car troubles to dating to forming and managing new and old friendships. And, oh yeah, within my first few months of moving to L.A., I finally had sex. And remarkably, it was so much less complicated than I had thought it would be. Until, of course, it wasn't.

Since my first time, which was roughly one year ago exactly, I've had sex with two additional people. (So yes, my magic number is three ATM.) And while there hasn't been one thing (or person for that matter) that I've regretted, it's definitely been an interesting adventure as I've meandered my way through the L.A. dating scene. I've had to figure things out and reflect and learn as I go, and, again, even though there's absolutely nothing I regret, per se, the road hasn't exactly been a straight line either. More importantly, I know I can do better when it comes to some of my habits surrounding my sex life. For instance, there's almost always at least a little bit of intoxication involved, I haven't seen a condom even once, and, like many of us, that heat-of-the-moment feeling has definitely influenced my actions more often than I would have predicted.

So, after acknowledging to myself that I wanted to shift some of my behaviors this year, I thought I would get some extra insight and validation from an expert, Patrice Harold, MD, director of minimally invasive gynecology at Detroit Medical Center's Hutzel Women's Hospital. Ahead, four unhelpful habits I'm giving up this year to have a healthier sex life. Keep scrolling!