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Move from what’s now to what’s next.


Move from what’s now
to what’s next.

Sexual Health

Sexual health is not a goal in itself but a daily resource of life, a positive concept emphasizing the physiological, psychic, and socio-cultural resources, as well as the individual capacities to implement them.

There are no ready-made recipes for being “sexually efficient”, becoming a “sexual athlete”, or reaching ecstasy in all circumstances. They don’t exist. On the other hand, we can learn to build a positive sexuality which helps to develop a fulfilling affective, relational, and sexual life.

Sexual Health

So how is Sexual Health defined?

According to the current working definition (from the World Health Organization), sexual health is: “…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” (WHO, 2006a)

The Six Fundamental Principles of Sexual Health
People interested in discovering their own vision of sexual health often wonder where to start the process. The following sexual health principles* can be helpful:

1) Consent
Sexual health means that sex is consensual. This is the most universal sexual health principle.
2) Non-Exploitation
Exploitation is when a person leverages their power and control to receive sexual gratification. Sexual health requires sex to be non-exploitative.
3) Honesty
Sexual health must have open and direct communication with oneself and every sexual partner. Honesty with oneself involves being open to sexual pleasure, sexual experience, and sexual education. Each person has the responsibility to determine their own standards of honesty about sex and sexuality as it relates to their partners, medical providers, community, and themselves.
4) Shared (and Held) Values
Throughout our lives, sexual values play an important role in motivations for sex. Specific sexual acts or turn-ons may have very different meanings for each partner. Values are a source of identifying one’s sexual standards and ethics. Differences in values, when honestly and vulnerably shared between partners, can lead to closeness or painful distance.
5) Mutual Pleasure
Pleasure is a primary motivation for solo-sexual activity (masturbation) and the giving and receiving between sexual partners. What gives us sexual pleasure is often a source of conflict when our pleasure conflicts with other aspects of our overall private and public identity. Too often judgments about the lack of congruence between what we are expected to find pleasurable competes with the erotic demands of our most hungry sexual desires. Throughout all stages of life from pre-teen to the final years of life, sexual health is the art of balancing one’s sexual safety and responsibility with the lifelong curiosity of pleasure, exploring sexual interests, and remaining curious about the ever-changing sources of sexual pleasure.
6) Protection from STDs/STIs, HIV, and Unintended Pregnancy
This sexual health principle addresses the need for anyone engaged in sexual activity to implement a contraception plan, prevent acquiring a sexually transmitted infection, and take precautions to prevent transmission of HIV. Access to tests that identify the presence of a sexually transmitted infection and proper medical attention to address any infections is essential for sexual health. Scientific and medically accurate information regarding how to prevent pregnancy requires access to a range of contraception methods.

* These Six Sexual Health Principles are based on various books and trainings by Douglas Braun-Harvey.
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Our Therapists

The clinicians at Affirming Therapy Center bring a sex-positive perspective and an understanding of how important it is to be able to process all of our feelings without worrying about judgment. We have extensive training in the area of sexual health, which means that we are all very comfortable talking about sexuality and we provide a safe and non-judgmental space for our clients.

Contact us today to discuss your sexual health concerns.