Sexual Health Without Stigma or Shame

Sexual Health Without Stigma or ShameSexual health is part of emotional well-being. Key words that are associated with good sexual health include the following:

  • Positive
  • Safe
  • Respectful
  • Consenting
  • Pleasurable

Sexual health is defined the World Health Organization as “a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social-well-being in relation to sexuality. In fact, sexuality is a central aspect of being a human, encompassing “sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy, and reproduction”. Sexual health is an important topic across all ages and stages of development.

 

There are various dimensions of sexual health such as biological, psychological, sociocultural, and spiritual components. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, roles and relationships”.

Our values influence attitudes, beliefs, and feelings about sexual behaviors. This includes not only one’s individual values, but also those shaped by friends, family, culture, religion/ spirituality, institutions, and the media. Science, including psychology, politics, and laws also influence sexuality. Messages related to sexuality and sexual health have experienced generation change and shifts in societal norms. These impact comfort levels in discussing sexual health.

Many individuals have experienced judgment, secrecy, shame, disapproval, and rejection related to sexuality. Working with a sex-positive therapist can help change thinking around topics such as gender, body shape and size, and sexuality and increase comfort with one’s own sexual identity and the sexual behaviors of others.

Sexual health is one of many areas that your therapist will ask about in either your first or second session. There are so many areas related to sexual health that come up in therapy, so rest assured that it is OK to talk about it #WithoutStigmaorShame.

Here are common areas that you may want to explore with your provider related to sexual health:

  • Support for sexual and reproductive health including difficulty talking to providers or partners about sex, body changes across the lifespan impacting sexual health, topics related to healthy relationships and safe sex practices, struggles with infertility, pregnancy loss, postpartum support, and topics such sexual dissatisfaction, pain/ discomfort, difficulty achieving orgasm, and premature ejaculation.
  • Support for mental health concerns impacting sexuality such anxiety or depression, body image, disordered eating, trauma, incongruence with sex assigned at birth and gender identity, sexual trauma, intrusive sexual thoughts, or concerns of impulsive or addictive behaviors.
  • Seeking a safe and supportive environment to process thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, and roles within relationship either 1:1 or with a partner(s). This often includes “unlearning” unhelpful messaging and embracing a new identity.
  • Exploration of your sexuality, LGBTQIA and intersectionality of identities. Support for including traditional and non-monogamous relational dynamics and working on intimacy concerns. This often includes exploring areas such as vulnerability, trust, and communication within relationships as well as addressing topics that impact relationships such as infidelity or betrayal, trust, and communication.

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

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