Why Everyone Should Care About Sexual Health
With the chokehold that conservative cultural and religious values still have on us, it’s no surprise that the conversations around sexual health progress at a snail's pace. Resources about our intimate well-being are available to us through the internet, but the flourishing discourse about it often remains behind our screens, where unmediated access to an infinite amount of related content can end up doing more harm than good.
A limited open discussion about sexual health deprives people of satisfying that aspect of their well-being. It's difficult for them to learn about something when they're ashamed to talk about it. When was the last time you wanted to discuss one of your interests but had no one to discuss it with? The part of our lives that our society relegates to a taboo topic dies in the shade.
To bring sexual health and reproductive health out into the open for some much-needed sun, we’ll be tackling the importance of developing a healthy dialogue between one's self and one's body. We'll also be touching on how addressing one's sexual needs is beneficial to one's physical and mental health.
What is Sexual Health?
Limited healthy discussions about sexual health hinders Filipinos from getting more out of their lives.
People shouldn’t be quick to judge that just because "sexual health" has the word “sex” in it, it's only concerned with sexual intercourse. A big disadvantage of growing up in a culture where seeing those three letters strung together triggers a shame response is that it doesn't get talked about in safe environments.
Imagine discussing sexual health as if it were something trivial. Mundane things, like the food you love, your usual bedtime, or your ticklish spots, come from an intimate familiarity with your body. It's knowing your preferences. It's knowing what makes you tick. Sexual health isn’t that much different from those things.
The World Health Organization defines sexual health as:
"...a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity."
Your sexual identity, which birth control pills work best for you, or how long your menstrual cycle is, are all aspects of intimate well-being that can benefit from a thorough understanding of yourself. These things may not be as sexy as a list of your turn-ons, but they still count as sexual health.
Sexual Health Isn’t Just For People Who Have Sex
Sexual health should be everyone's concern because it's related to physical health and mental health.
Whether you’ve had sex more times than you can count or you’ve never had sex at all, your sexual health should concern you. Most people have to deal with sex hormones. Most people also have to deal with the issues of love and attraction that go hand-in-hand with those hormones.
It encompasses a broad and sometimes overlooked aspect of one's life. As mentioned earlier, it is involved in your physical, mental, and emotional health.
The Physical Aspect of Sexual Health
They physical aspect of sexual health includes the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, proper care of the reproductive organs, and knowing which medications to take to address sexual health concerns.
The most closely associated aspect of sexual health would have to be the physical aspect. Practicing safe sex will help you prevent contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You also don’t need to be sexually active to get tested. Some infections can be transmitted through kissing and not just through intercourse. Consult a doctor or an OB-GYN today if you want an accurate evaluation of how you’re doing down there.
Sexual well-being isn't just the avoidance and prevention of STDs and STIs, but it also includes the proper care of the sex organs. Like how you would maintain your body with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you should give your reproductive organs just as much attention. Know their limits and refrain from overexerting them. Learn about their inner workings and how to check if they’re properly functioning. Being aware of what causes common sicknesses like erectile dysfunction (ED) and polycystic ovarian symptom (PCOS) can give you the confidence to seek treatment for them. It’s also helpful to know when to consult medical professionals, especially if you're experiencing abnormal symptoms.
Physical Aspect: Menstrual Health
Knowing about menstrual health can guide people to adjust their lifestyles to best accommodate the biological process.
Menstrual health plays a big part in menstruating individuals' lives. It’s more than just a period. It’s a complex and almost lifelong process that involves the interaction of different hormones. The more familiar people become with these chemical messengers and how they affect an individual, the more control they can have over how they deal with them. Instead of being at the mercy of hormonal changes, one can incorporate them into their daily routine and work around them if necessary.
Knowing the menstrual cycle can help one practice safe birth control with hormonal contraceptives. Proper usage of birth control pills can raise one’s quality of life with several benefits. Modern birth control has sophisticated formulations that give them more perks and fewer side effects. Pills like Faye can address acne problems, hair loss, and even PCOS. You can browse through our shop for affordable birth control and see which one best suits your needs.
It’s Mental Too
Changes in sex hormone levels have influence on a person's physical and mental states. Managing stress can improve one's sexual health.
The same hormones that facilitate different bodily functions also have effects on how we think and feel. For example, increased levels of testosterone and estrogen lead to aggressive behavior. Menstruating individuals experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) due to the sharp decline of estrogen and progesterone levels towards the end of ovulation. It’s difficult to see in the moment as you’re experiencing it, but hormones can influence massive changes in your mood. Being aware of this can empower you to act more intentionally.
We can’t talk about mental states without mentioning stress. Taking care of your sexual health can have a positive impact on your stress levels. Having control over your anxiety makes room for you to enjoy life. Practicing safe sex spares one from stressing over the chance of contracting an STD or unwanted pregnancy. Knowing the risks that come with having unprotected sex or other risky sexual behavior can help you make more enlightened decisions.
Stress can even apply to the more surface-level concern of being able to talk about your sexual health. Being in an environment that is affirming of your sexual identity can be taken for granted since it’s the norm for some people. Society’s looming expectations for how someone behaves and their constant need to correct themselves can put them under unnecessary stress. Knowing and being comfortable with who you are goes a long way.
Putting Power Back In Your Hands
Familiarizing yourself with your sexual health needs can empower you and allow you to get more out of life.
Sexual health is more than it seems. We’ve explored how it encompasses your physical and mental health and how meeting sexual health needs can improve both of these aspects. But more than what we’ve mentioned, sexual health is power. A deeper understanding of your sexuality and your sexual needs comes with the power to get more out of life. Better acquainting yourself with your sexual health strengthens your identity. And there is no greater pleasure than truly knowing who you are.