Words By Rosewell
Sex is everywhere. The stylised type - not honest, open accounts of the realities of sex and sexual health. Shows like Sex Education and Normal People are making good progress, but there’s still a long way to go until we can comfortably talk openly about sex and sexual wellbeing. Why is it so important? Well, it turns out our sexual wellbeing affects so much of our overall wellbeing.
Ever wondered how much sex you should be having? Or, whether your sex life is ‘normal’?
Many of these thoughts come about from what is visible to us. In movies and media, we are promoted a vision of sexual virility coupled with the benefits of a healthy and active sex life. But the reality of sex and sexual health are much more complex, and… varied.
When we think about sexual health, often the first things that spring to mind are the visible – contraception, Sexually Transmitted Infections, gynaecologist visits. Historically, the focus of sexual health conversations has been on preventing the risks of sexual acts. It goes without saying that being aware of and preventing risks are important conversations. But sexual health is much more than the absence of sexual problems.
Sexual health is defined by the World Health Organisation as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. The connection to sexuality is important, because, while sexuality is an essential part of being human, that’s where the similarities end. No two people share the same sexuality, express or experience their sexuality in the same way. At the same time, our sexuality is influenced by what we see in the media, our cultural and family values, our political values, our lived experiences, and so on.
That means, there is no ‘normal’ when it comes to our sexual lives, there is only what is normal to you. Wondering whether your sex life is ‘normal’ could be mere curiosity, but it also could be a sign of a deeper problem. It’s important to take the time to examine your thoughts, and seek professional guidance if you believe there is a problem.
What we believe is ‘normal’ depends on what is visible to us. That’s why we need to get better at having open and honest conversations about our sex lives and sexual health. When we do, we make sexual wellbeing more accessible to all of us.
A rich body of research confirms that sexual satisfaction affects our relationship satisfaction. In turn, our satisfaction with our relationships was found in this Harvard study to be a key driver of happiness, health, lifespan, and even, our earnings potential. Not by a small margin, either - those with more fulfilling relationships earn on average US$140,000 more at the highest points of their careers.
Open and honest conversation about sexual wellness – we are here for it.