7 Ways to make the most of Sexual Health Month 2021
September, or as I like to refer to it “Sextember”, is Sexual Health Month. The World Association for Sexual Health officially made September 4th World Sexual Health Day to build social awareness around sexual health, and it's celebrated during the entire month of September.
But what exactly is sexual health? According to the World Health Organization, sexual health is the state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality. Being sexually healthy differs from person to person, but it definitely means more than just preventing sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. Generally, having good sexual health means having the ability to be intimate with a partner, to communicate explicitly about sexual needs and desires, and to set appropriate sexual boundaries. Sexual health also means respecting and appreciating the differences of others, as well as recognizing the sexual rights of everyone.
To help spread awareness this September, here are some tips for how women can maintain good sexual health:
1. Find the right gynecologist:
A gynecologist is a doctor who cares for all your sexual and reproductive health needs, whether you experience pain during sex, have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), pregnancy and fertility needs, or are going through menopause.
2. Positive body awareness:
Many people are made to feel ashamed of their bodies, and a lot of women have never even seen what their own genitals look like. Take a small mirror and get a good look at yourself. Learn to love and accept every curve of your body.
3. Get tested for STDs:
It’s not only important to know that some STDs can occur not just through vaginal/penetrative sex but also unprotected oral sex. Getting that pap smear can save your life, your partner's life, and, if you do get pregnant, your unborn child’s life too.
4, Menopause is not the end:
Your reproductive system might slow down to a stop when you hit menopause, but your sexual health still matters. Taking your sexual health seriously after menopause is important because you can and should still enjoy a healthy sex life well after menopause.
5. Consent and agency matter:
In case it wasn't already clear, your right to sexual and reproductive health is non-negotiable. Your consent and your choices matter the most. You might take the advice of medical practitioners, parents, spouses, or friends, but the ultimate decision over your body lies with you.
6. Talk, talk, talk.
If you feel anxious or nervous about anything at all, tell your partner. If opening up about your concerns makes you feel shy ask for reassurance that your partner is open to the conversation. By devoting 15-minute conversations to the topic, you might find it easier to stay within your emotional comfort zones.
7. Read a book or listen to a podcast
Read a book about sexual health that addresses your questions and concerns. You can search earlier blog posts written by me that discuss sexual wellness-related books and podcasts. I recommend starting with those to learn more.