It is true that a good sexual health can be beneficial for everyone. First of all, it relieves stress, boosts immunity, and releases endorphins which gives you an elated mood. The most crucial thing here is knowing and understanding how to improve and maintain sexual health.
What is Sexual Health?
Defining and understanding the deeper meaning of sexual health is a complicated task. Each individual, culture or subculture has its various standards and definition of sexual health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains sexual health as the following:
- state of physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being in correlation to sexuality
- Not only entails the absence of sexual dysfunction, disease or infirmity
- Requires respectful and positive undertaking to sexuality and intimate relationships
- Including the potential of experiencing safe and pleasurable sexual experiences
- Sexual relationships and experiences, which are free of discrimination, coercion, and violence
- Sexual health can be accomplished and maintained by respecting, fulfilling and protecting the sexual rights of all individuals
Meanwhile, the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) concludes that sexual health is more than preventing unplanned pregnancy and sexual diseases. Thus, they also believe that acquiring unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases does not restrain an individual from becoming sexually healthy.
Moreover, they define sexual health as the state of embracing and enjoying an individual’s sexuality throughout their life. It is also a vital part of someone’s physical and emotional well-being. Likewise, having good sexual health means:
- Becoming aware that a person’s sexuality is a part of our life and tackles further than sexual behavior.
- Identifying and respecting equal sexual rights
- Access to sexual education, health information, and care
- Making efforts in preventing STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and seek medical treatment when needed.
- Ability to experience sexual practice, intimacy, pleasure and satisfaction when wanted
- Free to communicate regarding sexual health with healthcare providers, sexual partners, and others
You may have reservations and thoughts on definitions from both organizations. Sexual health is a big topic, and it is simply natural that definitions and interpretations are over-elaborate, idealistic and self-righteous. However, we can derive from both definitions a perspective of how sexual health functions in our day-to-day lives.
Key Ways To Enhance and Maintain Sexual Health
Physical, mental and emotional problems can interfere with one’s sexual health. Sometimes, problems overwhelm an individual causing him/her to break down and become discouraged. This also leaves a person’s sexuality to become frustrated.
These are problems you can and must not live with. In fact, there are ways you can improve and maintain good sexual health.
Maintaining good health
Your sexual health works in coordination with your overall physical, emotional, and mental health. Thus, healthy habits allow your body to be in shape and also develop your sexual life. The following are ways to maintain good health:
- Exercise: First and foremost, physical activity is one of the most healthy habits that can enhance your sexual health and functioning. Physical arousal relies on healthy blood flow, thus an aerobic exercise is crucial in accomplishing that goal. Moreover, exercise offers plenty of other health benefits, such as improving your mood, getting better sleep, preventing heart disease and other illnesses.
- Quit smoking: Smoking jeopardizes your health, such as inducing peripheral vascular disorder. This badly impacts the flow of your blood to your genitalia. Further, ladies who smoke will eventually undergo menopause around two years earlier than non-smoking women.
- Moderate alcohol intake: Men who experience erectile dysfunction may assume that consuming alcohol helps them relax. However, it actually does the opposite or worse. In fact, alcohol impedes the central nervous system, thus obstructing sexual reflexes. Further, drinking excessive quantities of alcohol jeopardizes the liver, which then increases estrogen production in males. Meanwhile, alcohol disturbs sleep and affects problems in menopause.
- Eat right: Excessive intake of fatty foods can lead to obesity and high blood cholesterol. Those are major risk factors for heart diseases. Further, being overweight leaves a poor body image and promotes lethargy. Meanwhile, losing extra pounds can increase one’s libido.
2. Communicate with your partner
A lot of relationships find it hard to discuss sex under any circumstance. When sexual issues arise, feelings of guilt, shame, and resentment can stop communication altogether. However, effective communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Thus, building communication is the first step to a closer emotional connection, improve sexual performance and sex life. Below are a few ideas on how to talk about sex:
- Find the time to talk: There are two varieties of sexual discussions: the ones you make in the bedroom and elsewhere. It is absolutely acceptable to tell your partner what feels great in the midst of lovemaking. However, it is ideal to wait until you are in a neutral or private setting to talk about bigger issues like orgasm problems and unsatisfied sexual desire
- Avoid criticizing, give suggestions: Instead of criticizing your partner, it is better to provide suggestions in a positive manner, like, “I love it when you grab my hair lightly this way.” Do not focus on the negative aspects. Let that sexual issue be a problem that needs to be resolved together.
- Discuss with your spouse about your body changes. If natural body occurrences happen at night or menopause is making your vagina dry, let your partner become aware of these changes. It is better that he/she understands what is happening instead of interpreting those bodily changes as having no interest. Likewise, if you are a guy and do not get an erection, then instruct or show your partner how to invigorate your sexual thirst instead of letting him/her feel they are not sexually alluring.
- Honesty: A common mistake in couples is faking an orgasm to please their partner’s feelings. However, this creates a slippery slope in a relationship. It may be daunting to talk about the sexual problem, but it will make things worse when the issue is buried throughout your relationship.
- Don’t correlate love with sexual activity: Create a feeling of tenderness and caring; kiss and touch often. Do not blame your spouse for your sexual problems. Instead, focus on maintaining physical and emotional intimacy.
- Be romantic: Surprise each other in various ways you can think of such as reading him/her poetry by the beach, giving him/her flowers even when there is no special occasion. You can also plan your day just lying in bed, talking, and becoming intimate. The essential tool is your sexuality, attitude and effort in making your intimate relationship work.
3. Efforts in avoiding STDs and unwanted pregnancy
If you are in a casual or open relationship, it would be wise to take cautious actions to prevent health issues or unwanted pregnancy.
- Avoiding HIVs: You may be having unprotected sex if you and your partner are sexually active and it has been around six months since you both tested for STDs. Otherwise, you must do the following to avoid HIV or STDs:
- Get tested for HIV
- Use latex condoms during sex
- Use water-based lubricant
- Remember that condoms only work like 98% of the time. But, they can be effective when used properly. Both partners should know how to utilize condoms appropriately.
- Wash your genitalia before and after intercourse
- Acquire vaccination for hepatitis B
- Avoid unwanted pregnancy: The majority of sexually active women do not take contraceptives and get impregnated in a year. Also, a woman 10 days after childbirth can get pregnant. Periodic abstinence will not always prevent pregnancy. Unwanted pregnancy can be prevented in two ways:
- Using contraceptives
- Total abstinence
Maintaining good sexual health does not only entail being able to perform sexually. It also means being cautious and vigilant to avoid health issues like STDs and chlamydia symptoms. It is always good to exercise and eat properly to enhance one’s sexual health.
Meanwhile, if you experience erectile dysfunction or other sexual disorders, immediately seek medical treatment. Never hesitate to talk to a health professional on how to improve and maintain your sexual health.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angie is a health enthusiast who specialises in spreading STD and chlamydia symptoms education across the country. She enjoys what she does and loves to travel to different areas. She loves to write for websites and is a family girl at heart.