What does Sexual Wellness Mean?
No, but for real what is sexual wellness? It is sort of a difficult concept to summarize into one meaning or definition since we have yet to arrive at a collective understanding due to varying societal, cultural, and individual perceptions of what would be deemed to be sexually “well”. Not to mention, the misconceptions and taboos associated with sex that contribute to a misguided and flawed understanding of what healthy sexuality looks like. So what we are going to do is bare it down to the basics if you need a definition:
Sexual wellness is a state of body/mind that enables you to enjoy and explore sex on your own terms and in your own time.
Now the kicker is, do you need to be monogamous, dating, or just basically having sex in order to maintain or rather improve your sexual wellness?
Let’s talk about sex baby
First off, let’s make it clear that sex isn’t just intercourse or even masturbation. It’s relative to our overall wellness, so you know the quality of intimacy in the relationship or relationships you keep, how you feel in your skin, how connected you are with your own sexuality. Often times when someone hears the expression sexual wellness the first thought to what being “well” entails is by maintaining a clean bill of health or avoiding an unplanned pregnancy. But, that does not automatically make you sexually healthy, just as having a sexually transmitted disease doesn’t mean you can’t be sexually healthy either. Your sexual wellness is essentially linked with your emotional, physical, and relational wellbeing. It’s more so how in-tune you are with yourself and the ongoing exploration into your desires, which gives intimacy meaning. It’s not simply the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity, which ironically enough are some taboos in the conversations concerning intimacy, romance, and relationships which is pretty messed up. So before we cover how you can be sexually healthy, we want to dispel any bedroom insecurities you may have, because taboos are just that — fear. And similar to a shadow, fear can be overcome when we shine a light on it.
Sexuality should not be a stigma
The first reality to face is that normative sexuality has been limited to heterosexual frameworks. This means social infrastructures are, explicitly or implicitly, designed to privilege the lives of those who embody this standard and disadvantage those who do not. Sexual stigma refers broadly to “all facets of the stigma associated with same-sex desires, sexual behaviors, and relationships, as well as sexual minority communities.” As we continue to expand outside the codependency of our heteronormative lens we realize that for some people, sexual orientation and desire are not rigid or continuous throughout their lives; rather, they can be fluid and change over time. Human sexuality is understood currently as more complex than typical binary depictions show it to be. We now often differentiate sexual, romantic, and aesthetic attractions and identities from each other, framing each as a constantly changing characteristic shaped by past and current experiences, other held identities (whether a racial, class, gender, ability, religious and/or others), and an individual’s own agentic desire.
Another major stigma is the one surrounding female sexuality. Women are sexual beings, yet even in their most intimate relationships, they often don’t know how to express themselves. The examples we see around us teach us to objectify ourselves, rather than celebrate our sexuality. Women often find themselves reacting to being sexualized, rather than expressing their own desires and vocalizing struggles such as if there is little to no intimacy in the relationship they are in. It is the right to be heard without fear of vilification or being gaslighted. By speaking honestly, we create a culture that embraces female sexuality without demeaning it, a culture that honors the most basic human desires and the beauty of women’s bodies. Like anyone, girls deserve nothing less. Like anyone, we all deserve the equal opportunity to love and be loved especially to be able to look within and love ourselves.
How Can You Be Sexually Healthy?
Sexual wellness is comprised of several factors, including:
Recognizing and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
Getting out of that toxic relationship, you deserve better!
Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
Practicing safe sex and seeking care when needed.
Experiencing sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired. (Connect, maybe try your luck with Bumble or Hinge)
Communicating about sexual health with others, including sexual partners and healthcare providers.
For most of us, sexual wellness is a work in progress. Try these tips to improve your own sexual wellness:
Masturbate: Masturbation allows you to explore your body and, when done together with a partner, can increase intimacy while you learn more about each other. Likewise, masturbation helps to increase self-esteem and body confidence. Also, it is definitely helpful to incorporate in a long-distance relationship.
Exercise: Not only does exercise increase blood flow and energy levels in both men and women, but it also decreases stress, which is the most common libido killer.
Be Fully Present: Being fully aware during a sexual encounter increases pleasure, intimacy, and connection. Increase your awareness of what your partner is feeling and think purposefully and intentionally about your behavior in a sexual situation because that is true couple goals.
Visit the Doctor: There’s nothing shameful about having medical professionals take care of any issues or answer any questions you may have. Get tested regularly and check up on what’s going on down there.
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