Sexuality and sexual health is an essential part of being human-being. We all strive whether consciously or unconsciously for love, intimacy, affection, compatibility, and a genuine connection with others. Love, respect, sexual intimacy, and connectedness are the essential ingredients for the foundation of all healthy romantic relationships. However, dysfunctional relationships, abuse, promiscuity, maladaptive coping skills, impulsivity, and failure to protect oneself can lead to unintended consequences that can affect our sexual health. Talking about sexual health can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, or intrusive for some, but in order to promote positive sexual health open discussing need to occur.
To fully understand the barriers limiting open sexual health discussions we need to both identify as well as understand how this information is being communicated. For example, is this information being conveyed in a manner that facilitates and encourages open dialogue or does it include limits to what can be said or even judgement. In many cases, the underlying causes include failure to discuss sexual health, specifically, sexual disorders and sexual dysfunctions. Sexual disorders and dysfunctions continue to be topics that are often poorly communicated and largely misunderstood. Most people would find it challenging at best to disclose problems with sexual functioning and decreased drive. It is important to address sexual health concerns with your health care provider and partner.
When discussing sexual health we are referring to all the things that influence and impact sexual functioning and reproduction. Not surprisingly, during these discussions a lot of people fail to recognize the importance of and the connection mental health has with sexual health. To prove my point consider how individuals with a history of childhood sexual abuse are often impacted by the abuse in their future romantic relationships. Persons with a history of sexual abuse may experience challenges trusting and connecting with others making sexual intimacy and sexual functioning extremely difficult. Sexual health and wellness plays a vital role in how we approach relationships, impacts our self-esteem, and contributes to our self-image.
Sexual Health can be Influenced by the Following:
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s)
- Reproductive challenges
- Orgasmic Issues/failures
- Fertility Issues
- Cancer and other gynecological problems
- History of sexual abuse or rape
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Decreased desire/drive
- Urinary tract infections
- Birth control
Maintaining Your Sexual Health Includes:
- Regular checkups
- Using appropriate protection
- Avoiding risky sexual activities
- Sexual health evaluations and treatment
- Maintaining periodic HIV/STD screening
- Prompt treatment of STD’s
- Implementing a healthy diet and exercise routine
- Partnering with a health care provider in the event of orgasmic issues and concerns
- Medication review
- Blood pressure screening
Being healthy is about feeling good physically, emotionally, and mentally. When we are healthy we have avoided the pitfalls of contracting STD’s, illnesses, unplanned pregnancies, and behave responsibly when it comes to our sexual health. Sexual health is just as important as physical and mental health, as it is an integral part of our overall health. When we are sexually healthy we make the best decisions for ourselves with regard to our sexual partners and sexual practice.