Sexual health and why it is important

According to the World Health Organization, sexual health is a fundamental right. One of those things that should come naturally as we enter this world and if you look at the requirements that need to be met, you’ll probably all agree – this really should not be that hard to do … Meeting all topics surrounding sexuality in a respectful and positive manner is one of the top requirements, as is having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences that are free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. Yep, this really should not be that hard, but the truth is, it is.

As a first hurdle, there is no one understanding to what all should be considered 'topics related to sexuality’. Too often, we hush away from it, not knowing what to say when or how to say what, Many of us have not been educated on consent, open communication, body parts and how they function, desire, and pleasure – all these important topics are left out and forgotten, covered under layers of shame passed down over generations, leaving those who become sexually active in a fragile state of confusion and misinformation.

How, one may ask, is that possible? Considering that it literally concerns us all. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. No exception.

Sexual health is now acknowledged as one of the four pillars of overall human health. There is our physical health, our mental health, our spiritual health, and our sexual health. But now what is sexual health? First let me say this, you do not have to throw any of your personal values, ethics, beliefs, or interests overboard, to live a sexually healthy life. Rather it is about integrating a set of principles into your life and finding ways to live a sexually healthy life within your own culture and value system. The World Health Organization defines six sexual health principles – if you can check all those boxes, hooray, you are doing it. If not, don’t worry, there are many ways to get there and I promise you, it is not as hard as it may seem at first glance.

The 6 principles of HEALTHY SEX

1. Consent – sexual health requires sex to be consensual, meaning that permission is continuously given and communicated at any given time, by all partners involved. And please, saying yes at one stage does not mean you cannot change your mind and turn that yes into a no.

2. Non-Exploitative – sexual health requires sex to be non-exploitative, meaning that no one is taken advantage of and there is no non-consensual power or control element that gives sexual gratification to one or more person/s, while harming others. Unilateral changes to sexual agreements (often in the form of affairs and/or cheating) are considered sexual exploitation, as they are non-consensual.

3. Honesty – sexual health requires honest and open communication with every person involved in sexual practices. According to the Harvey Institute, sexual relationships will fail to be healthy if they lack effective communication and honesty about sex related topics.

4. Shared Values – building a set of sexual values in a society where the topic is ruled by shame is difficult, yet it is another key element to sexual health. Sexual values play a primary role when it comes to motivations for sex. A difference in values between sexual partners that cannot be communicated honestly and vulnerably, can lead to disappointment and painful experiences.

5. Protected from STIs, STDs, HIV, and Unwanted Pregnancy – sexual health requires for this to be the case. Being safe in sex is a human right and should never ever be questioned.

6. Pleasure – healthy sex is always pleasurable for all partners involved. It does not matter what brings us sexual pleasure, there are many ways and no one is better than the other, but it must not lack. This (the lack of pleasure), I find, is the biggest issue in the world of sex and intimacy, so let me just be clear again on this one: Everyone (!!) involved must get pleasure out of it. If you do not like the sex you are having, you might not be having healthy sex.

Sexual health deserves all our attention. As many studies show, it is an essential part of our being, one of the key ingredients to living a happy and healthy life, and there are many ways to get there in case you feel unsure about one or more of the six principles laid out here. Know that you are not alone in this struggle, that it is not your fault, and that you can do something about it.

I am happy to help you discover how to create a more balanced, healthy and pleasurable (life) style that suits you. Get in touch via email or WhatsApp (+27 (0)64 609-4089).

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