Celebrating and Nurturing Your Sexual Health
September is Sexual Health Awareness Month, and we here at Sex With Emily have been celebrating all month long.
The reason it gets a whole month is because we oftentimes don’t remember to prioritize our sexual health. We don’t know how to talk about it or improve it. So we need to normalize sex this month…without shame or blame.
What Does It Mean To Be Sexually Healthy?
Most of us know about the importance of using condoms and getting checked for STDs. But those two things aren’t all there is to sexual health.
Being sexually healthy is also about taking care of yourself emotionally and feeling comfortable in your body, sexuality, and relationships– whether you’re with a partner or not.
Sexual Health Without a Partner
Just because you’re having sex with yourself doesn’t mean sexual health doesn’t apply to you. Even if it’s just you, your hands, and your favorite toys, there’s still a lot to consider when it comes to your sexual health. Firstly, masturbate! It’s good for you, science says so! Be conscious of yourself while you masturbate, and enjoy your own body. Make sure your toys and hands are always clean, and don’t be afraid to explore sensations you haven’t played with before. Go ahead and seduce yourself!
Sexual Health With Casual Sex
Sexual health when you’re single is just as important as when you have a regular partner. Just because you’re not in a relationship, doesn’t mean you’re not having sex. And if you’re not having sex, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not having orgasms. Everyone needs to own their pleasure, and take control of their sexual health and happiness.
Having sex with someone you aren’t exclusive or committed to can be very hot. But as with all sexual encounters, it’s imperative that you communicate your needs, comfort levels, boundaries, and expectations. Make sure you’re entering into sex for the right reasons, and check-in with yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically throughout.
Sexual Health in a Relationship
Sex can be one of the strongest foundations in a relationship. If you and your long term partner aren’t having sex at all, it’s a good idea to examine what’s blocking your intimacy.
The problem is that we’re simply not comfortable talking about it. We have so much shame so we don’t prioritize our sexual health. Many couples know there is a problem, but they don’t know how to talk about it – we’re so afraid we’re going to ruin the relationship if we talk about it. Like we’ll be shamed and blamed and so we do nothing out of fear. We hope it will somehow get better, or worse; stay as good as it was during the honeymoon phase- spoiler alert – it doesn’t.
Look at it this way… If your car is acting funny, you’re going to take it to a mechanic, right? But if your car is acting fine, you don’t even think about it. If your sex life is acting funny or running out of gas, would you expect it to magically repair itself, or try to find out a way to fix it?
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH
Communication Is Lubrication
Talking about sex is half the battle, especially if you’re in a committed relationship. The way that you communicate your thoughts and feelings about sex can have a huge impact on your overall sexual wellness. You want to be conscious of timing, tone, and turf – but what does that mean?
- Timing: Make sure that neither you nor your partner are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Bad moods are not conducive to good listening or communicating.
- Tone: Keep the conversation light and curious, and without any blame or shame.
- Turf: Have the conversation in a neutral environment outside the bedroom. Maybe when you’re in the car together, or walking the dog down the street.
Kegels can help people of all genders with a variety of sexual health benefits from urinary incontinence to prostate health and everything in between. You can do them anywhere, and anytime as long as you remember!
Not only can they help with medical issues, but doing your kegels can also improve the quality and frequency of your orgasms. It’ll be the easiest workout you do all day!
The importance of breathing is profound in all areas of health and wellness, and sexual health is no exception. The vast majority of us are not breathing deeply enough in our day-to-day life, let alone in the bedroom.
Deep and mindful breathing increases circulation to your whole body including your genitals and erogenous zones. When blood flow increases, sensation and pleasure increase. Focusing on your breath, and remembering to stay mindful can result in more satisfying sexual experiences.
BENEFITS TO BEING SEXUALLY HEALTHY
Have you ever had a great orgasm and then fallen asleep immediately after? We all know that orgasms feel good. But what we often forget is that when you climax, your brain actually releases “feel good” chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin that severely help reduce your stress levels and even help you sleep better.
This is a big benefit, because stress is one of the biggest killers of our sex drive. When your sex drive dips as a result of stress, it becomes harder to nurture your sexual health. When you are less stressed and feeling more connected to your partner or yourself, you’ll start to feel positivity and optimism sneak into other aspects of your life as well. You’ll be more productive at work, you’ll be a better parent, you’ll be a better boss, you’re a better friend.
BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM
Studies of sexually active versus sexually inactive people have shown that regular sex equals less sick days. Sex boosts your body’s ability to create protective antibodies against illness. It can also help with pain relief from cramps to muscle aches to migraines. And if you thought the list was going to end any time soon, sex has been proven to lower blood pressure and heart attack risk.
In addition to the immune system benefits, having sex boosts your libido too! Sex begets sex. Intimacy begets intimacy. The more you do it, the more you want it, which will lead to more affection and improve your connection to your partner.
SEX AFTER MENOPAUSE
Entering menopause is a fact of life. The more you educate yourself about how the hormonal change affects you, the easier you’ll be able to maintain an active and healthy sex life through it. Sexual pleasure floods your brain with oxygen which improves higher cognitive function, especially as we age.
Every person experiences menopause differently. Estrogen takes a nosedive after menopause and for most, it can have an impact on your desire for sex and mean big changes physically, as well. A waning libido, vaginal dryness, and painful sex are some of the speed bumps you might come across during your journey through menopause. Here are some tips to help you deal:
Lube It Up
Adding a great lube to the mix is always a fantastic idea. In an ideal world, there would be a lube on every nightstand – regardless of age. This can definitely help with dryness, and may be able to take care of the pain. Pjur makes a fantastic lineup of products to combat vaginal dryness.
Sex doesn’t always have to equal intercourse. “Outercourse” is a term used to describe all the other ways you can have sex with someone. Expand your erotic horizons to include the entire body. This paves the way for more playful touching, massaging, and intimacy.
Don’t Wait To Be In The Mood
Desire and physical arousal come after emotional intimacy. In midlife, we have to flip our mindset to enhancing intimacy across the board. Decrease expectations of what sex should be like, and focus on creating a romantic atmosphere and keeping a playful, fun mood in the bedroom.
So go forth and have a happy sex life and a happy sexual health awareness month!