Sex isn’t something our society likes to talk about. In fact, most of us were taught since we were kids that sex is the kind of topic you keep far away from polite conversation. Despite mental health topics being more and more welcome in today’s conversations, sexual health is still quite taboo.
Talking about sexual health may make you blush, but it’s important too! Sexual health is strongly related to both your physical and mental health and something not going quite right in your sex life may indicate an underlying physical or psychological issue you should take care of.
Let’s explore further why sexual health is important.
Your sexual health can tell you a lot about your physical health.
The human reproductive system is tied to many of our other bodily systems. One simple example: huffing and puffing during sex may mean you need to work on your cardiovascular health!
Sex has numerous health benefits. It can:
- Improve sleep quality
- Relieve chronic pain
- Strengthen your heart
- Boost your immune system
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower risk of prostate cancer
Problems With Your Parts?
Unfortunately, our equipment doesn’t always work perfectly. For people with penises, erectile dysfunction (ED) may be more than a frustration; it could be an indicator of an underlying health condition, including diabetes, kidney disease, and high blood pressure. While it can also indicate prostate cancer, don’t panic! ED is quite common (affecting about 30 million Americans), and most people who have it don’t also have prostate cancer.
For people with vaginas, pain during sex can also be both distressing and a health issue. While some cases can be remedied with a little lube, pain may indicate a problem like ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or simply an irritating skin condition. You deserve to have pleasurable sex, so talk to your doctor or gynecologist if sex makes you uncomfortable.
Sexual health is a big part of mental health.
Sex can be an issue for people with existing mental health conditions that require treatment by medications. Many antidepressants lower libido as a side effect. This can be frustrating for patients taking these drugs, but they may be uncomfortable bringing it up with their doctors. They may not even know that a prescription drug is a reason behind their bedroom troubles.
So if you’re reading this, take medication, and are experiencing bedroom troubles, please do talk to your doctor! Fixing your problems can be as simple as switching to a slightly different medicine that delivers the same treatment. Don’t be shy about talking to your doctor about sex. Chances are they have plenty of experience with these issues.
You deserve a healthy relationship.
Perhaps more significant than both physical and psychological health effects, sexual health has a profound impact on your relationships. Misunderstandings can put strains on intimate relationships. For example, if one partner experiences pain during sex and thus doesn’t enjoy it, but their partner doesn’t know, the partner that does enjoy sex may assume they’re not attractive enough. This can lead to relationship conflict and loss of self-esteem. That’s why it’s important to keep communicating about everyone’s needs, wants, likes, and dislikes.
A Word About Consent
Consent is also another important topic, especially in today’s #MeToo era. Consent means the person you want to have sex with, freely and clearly agrees to sex. Planned Parenthood offers a simple way to remember what is considered consent: FRIES.
- Freely given
A few more important things about consent:
- It can be withdrawn at any time.
- Just because you didn’t say no, doesn’t mean you consented. Consent must be clear, enthusiastic, and freely given.
- People who are drunk or high are not capable of consenting, nor are minors.
- Being in a relationship does not automatically imply consent.
Remember, you deserve a healthy relationship! If you are currently struggling with sexual health-related issues, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Prioritize yourself.