What Is Sexual Health and Why Should I Care?

Whenever the topic of personal wellness comes up, most people think about physical and mental wellness. Often, individuals ignore sexual health, and to many it’s still a taboo subject. Often, those who do choose to speak about it end up focusing on topics like unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. However, sexual health is much more than that. September celebrates sexual health awareness by breaking down cultural and social taboos associated with sexual health and sexuality. For the campaign to succeed now and in the future, the question worth asking is: What is sexual health?

What Is Sexual Health?

What comes to mind when you hear “sexual health”? The use of contraceptives? Maybe the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases? That’s what sexual health means to many people, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, twenty million new STD infections occur annually in the United States.

Let’s Talk About Sexual Health – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

There is so much more to sexual health than STIs and unplanned pregnancies, though. September is Sexual Health Month, in order to raise awareness about this once taboo subject. The truth is, sexual health is an essential aspect of both physical and emotional health.

But what is sexual health? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being regarding sexuality. It’s about assuming a respectful, positive approach to sexual relationships and sexuality. What’s more, it’s about having safe, consensual sexual experiences that are pleasurable and free of coercion, and violence.  

Factors That Affect Sexual Health

Advancements in sexual health should not just be about treatment and care but about prevention as well. There is so much you can gain from prevention, and a good place to start is through education and proper community outreach.

Good sexual health will depend on factors such as:

  • Access to quality information about sexuality and sex
  • Awareness about the risks you may face and your vulnerability to the adverse outcomes of unsafe sexual practices
  • Access to sexual health care when needed (A good example is For Hims ED solutions like Viagra and Cialis for men experiencing sexual dysfunction issues.)
  • An environment that supports positive sexuality and affirms sexual health

What Does Being Sexually Healthy Mean?

Mental health, physical health, and sexual health are all vital to the well-being of an individual. However, there are still a lot of reservations when it comes to talking about sex. Sexual Health Awareness Month sheds light on the importance of understanding and being in control of your sexual health.

Cheerful casual couple playing tickles under the bed cover know what is sexual health.
Sexual Health Awareness Month Shed Light To It Importance (Image Source: Shutterstock)

But what does it mean to be sexually healthy?

  • Understanding the nature of sexuality and that sexuality is more than your sexual behavior
  • Recognizing that everyone has sexual rights that need to be respected
  • Having access to educational information regarding sexual health and care
  • Being determined and doing what you can to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies and being willing to seek treatment when you need to
  • Recognizing that you have a right to experience sexual pleasure, intimacy, and satisfaction in whatever healthy way you choose, as a consenting adult
  • Communicating about sexual health with other people, including healthcare providers and sexual partners
  • Enjoying and expressing your sexuality without being coerced or discriminated against
  • Being aware of the effects of negative sexual experiences, like sexual abuse, and the impact cultural messages can have on the sexual development of different individuals

Sexual Health: Sexual Orientation and Gender

A big part of sexual health is experiencing safe, sexual pleasure free of violence, and coercion. Let’s work to reduce harm from discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Woman thoughtfully kissing the forehead of her partner.
Every Gender Has Unique Sexual Needs (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Gender norms are predominantly about societal expectations and roles assigned to boys, girls, men, and women. They are not universal or static, though. When it comes to sexual health, unique individuals have unique sexual needs that may have nothing to do with physical sexual experiences. 

Sexual health should be part of your healthcare routine. This means finding a healthcare provider to talk to about sexual health issues, like function and performance. And, this is true regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity. More people are confidently coming out as gay, lesbian, asexual, or bisexual and embracing their sexuality.

Whether you’re straight or gay, cisgender, transgender, or gender fluid, it’s important to understand how to maintain healthy relationships. It’s also about respecting another person’s sexual orientation, boundaries, and gender identity.

Sexual Health Month: Take Control of Your Sexual Health

Sexual Health Month is a great time to learn about, understand, and take control of your sexuality. Start the conversation with someone you trust (such as your partner, if you have one). Take time to understand your body and that of your partner. Take measures to engage in healthy sexual practices and seek treatment when necessary. And of course, treat people with kindness.