Last Updated on June 22, 2023 by Joshua Isibor
The term sexual health is often mentioned in passing and we vaguely think it means having a healthy sexual relationship or not having any STDs. However, it’s actually about so much more than that, and even the World Health Organization has a clear definition of what it is, and why it’s important.
In a nutshell, sexual health is about having a respectful, positive approach to sexual relationships and having safe, pleasurable sexual experience. This means that men and women can enjoy sex free from the risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancy and not be subject to violence, discrimination, or coercion.
If your sexual health needs a little bit of a health check, now’s the time to make sure your body and mind are ready for safe, fun experiences that leave you feeling good!
These five steps can change the way you view sex, yourself, and your relationships for the better.
1. Learn From the Past
Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or embarking on an exciting new fling, you can always learn from the past.
Take the time to reflect on previous sexual experiences and work out what you liked and perhaps what made you feel a little less healthy—physically or emotionally. Now is an opportunity to do things differently and better. You can write your own new script by using experiences from the past.
Ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly:
What makes you feel good when you have sex?
Is there anything about sex you don’t enjoy?
Can your partner do anything to make sex more pleasurable? (and vice versa)
Do you feel comfortable talking about sex with your partner?
Are you happy about your partner’s sexual health and hygiene?
Are you worried about STDs or contraceptives?
What would you like to do differently this time around? Do you need to speak up more about your needs or concerns? Do you want to spend more time on foreplay, or would you like to play out some fantasies and introduce toys to the bedroom?
Recognizing, voicing, and acknowledging your needs and boundaries will help you to become more positive and confident in your sexual relationship. You’ll feel safer, in control and more grounded, all of which are very sexy!
2. Know What Gives You Pleasure
Good sexual health means being in touch with your body—literally.
Masturbation is a healthy, normal activity that’s about so much more than reaching orgasm. It’s also a wonderful way to learn what you really like, and what turns you on.
The more you learn about your body and what you like, the easier you can communicate this to your partner and get even more pleasure out of sex. You can try different types of stimulation, different angles or pressure, and whatever else you find a turn on. Sexy lingerie, erotic books or movies, toys, handcuffs…try whatever works for you!
If you have specific sexual concerns, like trouble experiencing orgasm with a partner, early ejaculation, erectile difficulties, or performance anxiety, you should seek professional help. Working with a sex-positive, compassionate professional can be a huge boost to your sexual confidence and can make sex a far more positive experience.
3. Communication is Key
Good communication plays an important role in any sexual relationship. The more you talk, the healthier your relationship will be. There’s no room for misunderstandings that may leave you feeling unfulfilled at best, and uncomfortable or hurt at worst.
Being able to talk openly and honestly with your partner about what’s working and what you’d like to try differently is likely to lead to a more fulfilling sex life. However, it can be difficult, as it’s such a sensitive topic.
If it’s easier, turn off the lights and talk in the dark, or write each other letters. You can also agree to signals you use during sex to indicate that you want more or less of something. This makes it a little easier to communicate your wants and desires rather than having to voice them out loud, which can be daunting!
Healthy sex is about mutual consent and pleasure—communication in a nutshell!
4. Focus on Pleasure and Not Performance
So often we feel anxious and insecure about our attractiveness—our size, shape, and weight can all leave us feeling less body confident than we deserve. Many people also worry about their sexual performance and being ‘good enough’ which puts a lot of pressure on sex.
When we get caught up in our heads, we get disconnected from our bodies and we lose out on that fabulous feeling of uninhibited pleasure that sex can bring. If you can forget about your insecurities and the pressure to perform and focus on what you’re feeling, you’ll enjoy sex far more.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your sexual needs and your partner’s may change over time. Be willing to adapt to differences in everything from changes in sex drives to desires and preferences.
If you are facing a very real performance issue such as erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness, then you need to take action. There are medications that can help and lubricants that you can use. You may also need to make lifestyle changes like adjusting your diet, or seeking counseling to move forward. If you do this, you’ll put the pleasure back into sex and have a healthier relationship with your body.
5. Have a Sense of Humor
Sex can be messy, noisy, and funny! Don’t be shy to enjoy all of it—even the weird parts. Sharing your body with someone is all about connection, intimacy, and pleasure. If you relax and embrace it you’ll have a far healthier relationship with everything it entails.
If you’re not able to laugh, are scared of upsetting your partner, or don’t feel comfortable, you need to rethink your relationship. Sex is an intimate act and you should never have to tread on eggshells.
Of course, you should never laugh at someone’s insecurities or performance issues. But sharing a giggle because your bodies made a funny sound or because you both lost your rhythm while sliding off the bed are bonding moments you can laugh at together.
Sexual health plays an important role in your life and your relationships. If you follow these tips, you’ll get more pleasure out of every experience, whether it’s solo, or with a partner!
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