Sexual health awareness: why your sexual health matters
Sex is good because it’s a natural part of human life. We didn’t make it Earthside on our own, right? Sex brings life and progresses humanity. Sex helps us experience feel-good hormones, intimacy, and pleasure.
To have a healthy sex life, you have to take good care of yourself. This means making your sexual health a priority⸻which is lacking in many conversations today. That’s why we’d like to shed some light on sexual health awareness.
Read on to find out what sexual health is, what sex is like in the US, why your sexual health matters, and how to make it better.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HEALTH?
When you think about sexual health, you might imagine a high school health teacher doing the ol’ condom over the banana demonstration. But, sexual health goes further than learning how to practice safe sex.
Sexual health defined
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual health as the state of emotional, mental, social, and physical well-being as it relates to sexuality [source]. Sexual health is just as important as any other area of health or wellness since it involves all parts that make us human. Managing chlamydia, picking up condoms from a clinic, seeking sexual relationship help, and discussing lack of arousal are examples of topics related to sexual health.
What does good sexual health mean?
Good sexual health practices aim for a positive and respectful stance on sex and sexual relationships. You can gain and sustain good sexual health through protecting and respecting sexual rights and creating sexual experiences where there’s safety and consent [source]. Because everyone knows consent is sexy!
SEXUAL HEALTH IN AMERICA
Sexual health awareness means discovering what’s up with sexual health in America today, and the outlook isn’t pretty. Differing values, beliefs, and attitudes about sex have long put it under a negative light which is stigmatizing. For these reasons, there are a lot of gaps in accessing good sexual health education and care [source].
Though there has been positive progress in sexual health, like the declining rates of HIV, Americans have far more sexual health-related problems than other developed countries [source][source]. That’s because of the significant rates of STIs, unintentional pregnancies, reproductive diseases, sexual violence, and sexual dysfunction [source]. Problems like sexual dysfunction are quickly increasing.
Sexual dysfunction statistics
Sexual dysfunction affects the lives and well-being of both men and women in the US today. It’s no secret that sexual dysfunction is a serious matter and can wreak havoc by creating stress, anxiety, depression, and severe relationship tension.
In men, sexual dysfunction rears its ugly head by causing difficulties in getting and keeping an erection⸻also known as erectile dysfunction (ED). If getting hard has been an issue for you, you aren’t the only one. Erectile dysfunction affects 30 million American men today. With global predictions for 322 million cases of ED by 2025, there’s a strong likelihood that ED in America will remain a growing problem in the future [source] [source].
The overwhelming flood of ED commercials and ads may make it seem like sexual dysfunction only impacts men, but that’s simply not true. A 2002 review reports that sexual dysfunction affects 40 million American women [source]. For women, this might involve pain during sex, troubles with achieving orgasms, low sex drive, or low arousal.Today, 41% of women across the globe are experiencing some form of sexual dysfunction [source].
WHY YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH MATTERS
Poor sexual health is risky
We’ve already discussed the many ways poor sexual health impacts Americans today. If your sexual health goes unignored, there can be many consequences. Poor sexual health can lead to STIs, unplanned pregnancies, poor mental health, fertility problems, etc. It’s important to note that factors lead to poor sexual health, including hormone imbalances, reproductive disorders, and trauma. Either way, it helps to take sexual health seriously to get the education, support, treatment, and protection you need.
It impacts your life and the lives of others
Your sexual health matters because it can impact your future health, the health of the children you may have, and the lives of those you may call a partner. You see, sexual health begins with you as an individual, and more sexually healthy individuals can mean more sexually healthy couples.
If you’re in a relationship, taking care of your sexual health can create closer intimacy between you and your partner if you can communicate openly and honestly. You’ll develop mutual respect for one another’s bodies and your individual needs. It’s safe to say that good sexual health is crucial to healthy relationships.
Your sexual health influences your overall health
The WHO says that sexual health is a basic part of your overall health and well-being [source].
Your sexual health matters because you deserve the right to lead a thriving life in all areas of
health, including sexual. Prioritizing your sexual health can help enhance your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Here are some other ways that good sexual health can benefit you.
- You can enjoy a healthier body.
- You can adopt peace of mind.
- You can protect yourself and others.
- You can positively reflect on your desires, values, and expectations about sex.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH
There are many ways you might know how to improve your health. You might aim to drink lots of water while you work, eat a serving of veggies at dinner, or take a morning run a few days a week. But, how do you improve your sexual health?
You can grow in sexual health awareness by taking some time to educate yourself on sexual health. We know there’s lots of not-so-good information on sexual health, so visit trusted websites like the CDC and The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA).
Talk with trusted friends about sex
We understand that your sexual health is personal and private, and talking about it can be embarrassing and scary. Talking with trustworthy, non-judgemental friends could help you get more comfortable talking about sex. They, too, may want to talk about sexual health, and speaking about sex topics more openly can help remove the stigma.
Build a positive relationship with your healthcare provider
“How many sexual partners have you had in the last year?” Depending on your healthcare provider, this might be a question you’ve been asked before. But, these brief questions may not be enough to take a deep dive into the state of your sexual health.
Bring any questions or concerns about sexual health to your healthcare provider to open up a deeper conversation. The more transparent you can be about your sexual history, desires, and concerns, the better help you’ll get. You’ll also have a better chance of building a positive relationship with your healthcare provider.
Choose nutrient-rich foods and beverages
What you eat profoundly impacts the health of your body and its ability to function at its best.
Eating a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy is the key to eating well. Eating well gives your body the critical nutrients to sustain energy levels, ward off disease, and improve or maintain healthy sexual function.
Move your body
Along with healthy eating, getting active in ways you enjoy can help you adopt a healthy lifestyle that you can sustain. Engaging in exercise can help reduce stress, prevent disease, and improve sexual function.
Moving your body also helps develop greater appreciation and acceptance of your body.
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH
Sexual health issues are increasing in society today. Your sexual health matters because it significantly impacts your overall health and well-being. Are you ready to take a step towards bettering your sexual health? You might consider educating yourself, talking with trusted friends and healthcare providers, and taking good care of your body through exercise and nutrition. Check out how bido can naturally help boost your sexual health with a unique blend of nutrients to support your physical, emotional, and social well-being.
Gaby McPherson MS, RDN, LDN
Gaby is a full-time freelance writer, specializing in evidence-based health, nutrition, and wellness articles, as well as creating engaging content for health brands. Her clients have been Healthline, Ovia Health, Happiest Baby, Once Upon a Farm, EatingWell, and more. She's very passionate about reproductive and family health. When she’s not writing, Gaby spends her free time dancing to the Encanto soundtrack with her beautiful preschooler.