Sexual health includes every topic related to our sex lives, sexual anatomy and sexual relationships with ourselves and others. The WHO states, “Sexual health-related issues are wide-ranging, and encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual expression, relationships, and pleasure.”
Sexual health branches into our self-care, mental health, physical health, overall wellness and interactions with others. Sexual health really matters because it touches many facets of our lives.
Sexual health and self-care
What seems like a new topic has been around a long time. According to Slate, “Self-care originally caught on as a medical concept. Doctors have long discussed it as a way for patients to treat themselves and exercise healthy habits, most often under the guidance of a health professional.”
In the 70s, it moved into the mainstream with the civil rights movement and was seen as a defiant action - self-determinate - to look after your own wellbeing. Now it encompasses everything that might contribute to a happier, healthier you. And that includes sexual health. Taking charge of your sexual health from a self-care perspective might mean:
- Insisting on consent for any sexual activity
- Taking ownership of your pleasure
- Using toys to explore endorphin release
- Sharing your sexual boundaries and interests with your partner
- Investing in clothing and products that make you feel more desirable
- Learning to accept and love your body
Sexual health and your health
Relating sexual health to physical health is much more intuitive. Most of us understand the more mechanical aspects of our bodies and take action when they go wrong. But, sexual health is also concerned with preventative measures. You should get tested regularly for all types of STIs and insist your partners wear preventive devices like condoms and dental dams to protect you from infection.
If a family is something you want in the future, talk with your GP about your fertility. There are lifestyle changes you could probably make to increase your chances of conceiving (if that’s what you want). And if you’re a new mum or worried about your pelvic floor, you can strengthen those muscles with the help of new tech like the multi award-winning kegel device, Elvie Trainer.
But don’t forget to think about your mental health too. How can you challenge and change any unhelpful and damaging thoughts you have about your sexuality? A therapist may be able to help you with any serious sexual mental health concerns you might have.
Your sexual health is your choice
Sexual health from both a self-care and a medical standpoint is all about taking ownership. You have a choice about how you manage your sexuality, relationships, gender expression and more.
There are more options now than ever before to enable whatever sexual lifestyle you desire and support your sexual health overall. But the first step is making the choice to put your sexual health first. Take stock of everything mentioned above and identify anywhere you could make a better, healthier choice for yourself. And include your partner, a GP or a therapist if you need further support.