September 4th is celebrated as World Sexual Health Day every year. Let’s take a look at why this day was created and why good sexual health is about more than just your body.
World Sexual Health Day and sexual wellness
Every year, the 4th of September is celebrated globally as World Sexual Health Day. This day was first conceived of in 2010, by the World Association for Sexual Health, in order to spread a better social awareness of sexual health across the world Best Treatment For Erectile Dysfunction In India
They started off with the theme of ‘Let’s talk about it’, bringing attention to the taboo around sex and sexuality that still exists in many communities, cultures and countries, regardless of location. The 2020 theme for WSHD is “sexual pleasure in times of COVID-19”. The fundamental idea is that sexual health and wellness is a priority and is fundamental to the overall wellbeing of every single person. In order to nurture that importance, and to help each person get the most out of their sexual health, there needs to be a celebration of, awareness about and frank discussion on all aspects of sexual health and wellness.
And what are all these aspects of sexual health? According to the World Health Organisation, sexual health is “fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries. Sexual health, when viewed affirmatively, requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”
It further defines sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity,” and reminds us that “for sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”
What does all of this actually mean? It means that having good sexual health requires you to focus on all aspects of sex, namely, the physical, the emotional, the mental and the social. It means that there needs to be an intersection of consent, rights, freedom, access and openness to sexual healthcare, laws and discussions that make it possible for every single person to enjoy and find pleasure in sex. And it also means having the space to be asexual, or experience no sexual attraction to anyone, regardless of gender, and for that to be normalised and supported.
How can I look after my sexual health?
So let’s look a little further at what each area of good sexual health includes, and how you can make sure you’re paying attention to each aspect of it, for your own wellbeing Immediate Treatment Erectile Dysfunction
Physical sexual health is probably the most straightforward to understand and take care of it, since it includes the basics.
Firstly, it’s important to make sure that you’re using protection whenever you’re having sex, for a multitude of reasons. Contraceptive methods like birth control pills, IUDs, etc. can help avoid unwanted pregnancies, but none of these methods can help protect you against sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs and STDs). The only protective method against these are condoms — both penile and vaginal — and dental dams, which are used on the gums during oral sex.
It’s also important to get regular sexual health check-ups, and know your status regarding any STIs or STDs. Many STIs don’t necessarily manifest in outward symptoms even when you have them, so the only way to rule them out for sure is by getting regular checks. It’ll also help you keep a track of STDs that can spread in ways other than sex as well, such as HIV or hepatitis. Knowing your status protects both your own and your partner(s)’s health, and disclosing both of your statuses prior to sex is an important part of it.
If you’re experiencing problems with sexual dysfunction, such as ED or PE, issues with fertility, or any other health issues that interfere with the quality of your sex life, being able to seek professional, qualified help and access it easily is essential for good sexual health.
The Emotional and Mental
No conversation about sex is complete without a discussion of consent, and this time is no different. Consent isn’t just important, it’s vital, because sex without consent is simply assault, and is morally, ethically and legally wrong. As the WHO reminds us, good sexual health is having the freedom to have sexual encounters with adult, consenting partners, and having those encounters be free of violence or coercion.
Good sexual health also requires that you feel able to openly express yourself, communicate your needs honestly with your partner, have those needs respected, and vice versa. It means that you’re able to find joy and happiness through sex, and feel heard and validated. It's about defining sexual intimacy for yourself in whatever way feels right for you, and knowing that the types of sex you want to have or find joy in are as valid as any other, as long as they’re consensual and informed.
It also means that if your mental health and wellbeing is interfering with the quality of your sex and intimacy, you’re able to find and access help for it. Professional psychological healthcare is important for every person who needs it, and finding joy in sex is intrinsically tired to a person’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
Finally, social sexual health includes all the other aspects of the community, society and context that we live in, and their attitudes towards sex and sexuality. A common example of this is access to sex education, and how much value education and information about sex and sexuality is given. Sex education goes beyond information about puberty, and includes topics like consent, protection, contraception and healthcare. Instead of getting erroneous and often exaggerated information from places like pornography, people should have access to legitimate and approachable avenues of sex education.
It also involves attitudes towards homosexuality, and increasing social acceptance and equal rights for all sexualities. It includes holistic legislation to prevent and persecute sexual violence, and moulding public opinion and attitudes towards safe, consensual and adult sex to be more accepting and positive.
All in all, we can see that good sexual health isn’t just a matter of your physical health, but involves a number of different aspects. This World Sexual Health Day, and each day moving forward, let’s keep these in mind as we strive to make sexual health better for not just us, but every person in the world.