Let's Talk About It: Sexual Health Conversations Should Focus on Pleasure Too

by Ariel C. Williams

As with many complicated matters within our community, discussions around sex are often seen as taboo, waffled or avoided for being too complex or provocative. But in this transformational age of womanhood, topics like sex—and specifically receiving pleasure from sex—have proudly found their way onto most women’s must-have lists. As progressive a change that this is, many women are still uncomfortable explicitly discussing pleasure when having conversations about sexual health and sexuality. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals surveyed that 68 percent of patients “cited fear of embarrassing a provider as a reason for not broaching sexuality issues.”

So what is sexual health?

To benefit from, or even understand sexual health, one’s attitude toward sexuality must be positive, open, and respectful; as this can lead to safe and pleasurable episodes. Sexual health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity, but “a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality.” To add, sexual pleasure is the feeling we get when we become sexually aroused. Women have been conditioned to believe that our sexual needs and desires are not important at all; or as important as our partners. Contrarily, this pleasure enhances health and well-being even though it’s often overlooked when discussing women’s sexual health.

Sexual pleasure can be achieved in various ways, starting with stimulation brought on by our partners or masturbation.
Masturbation, or solo sex, can singlehandedly improve your relationship with yourself. The Women’s Health Network lists other benefits of masturbation such as preventing cervical infections; relieving urinary tract infections; improving cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes. Fighting insomnia and increasing pelvic floor strength are also among benefits. In a fun post, Women’s Health Magazine shares how women can enjoy masturbation in 21 ways, as they should.

Sex with our partners should be a fun and enjoyable experience for both parties. However, studies have shown that many women don’t feel comfortable expressing their desires in the bedroom. Being open and communicative about sex can not only reduce the risk of STDs or STIs, but trails the path to being pleased the way you like. The Internet is filled with data from multiple female study groups in which women have shared with sex therapists or psychologists what they enjoy, don’t enjoy, or wish their partners would (or wouldn’t) do during sex. Buzzfeed asked 16 women what they wish their partners knew and received answers like, “I think it would be really fun to try dirty talk,” to the comically blunt, “Go down on me, fool!”

While resistiveness is still an issue regarding women’s stimulation and arousal, the olden days of scheduling OB/GYN appointments just to be stimulated (because of sexual repression) are long gone. It can be uncomfortable to talk about sex with no chaser, but health professionals—and hopefully respective partners—are encouraging the conversation more than ever. It’s important that women assess (through masturbation or other experimentation) and address (with their lovers) their sexual appetites in a healthy way as it reduces stress; minimizes pain; reduces colds; lightens periods and cramps; and gives skin a healthy, youthful glow. Health benefits are abundant, but the most important reasons to talk about pleasure when we talk about sexual health is because it’s our God-given right.

Photo: Shutterstock

Ariel C. Williams is a creative writer and author of The Girl Talk Chronicles: Advice on How to Manage Love, Lust & Situations (amazon). Her mission is to help women thrive in life, love, and goals through girl talk and events. She's on Twitter and Instagram as @ArielSaysNow.

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