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.
It can be difficult to distinguish a temporary relationship or sex issue from a more serious crisis that can lead to complications.
Sexual health means that sex is consensual. This is the most universal sexual health principle.
Exploitation is when a person leverages their power and control to receive sexual gratification. Sexual health requires sex to be non-exploitative.
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.
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.
Protected from STI, HIV, and Unwanted 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.
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.
Sexual Health Resources
Following is a research paper by Jennifer Rehor concerning women in the kink community.
Archives of Sexual Behavior
“Sensual, Erotic, and Sexual Behaviors of Women from the ‘Kink’ Community“
Volume 44, Issue 4. DOI:10.1007/s10508-015-0524-2
Click here to download as PDF.
General Sexuality Information
• Sexual Health Definition
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)
Female Sexual Anatomy
• Becoming Orgasmic: A Sexual and Personal Growth Program for Women by Julia Heiman and Joseph LoPiccolo
• The O Tapes: video about 25 women’s subjective sexual experiences
• How a Nerd Describes Orgasm by Sexplanations with Dr. Lindsay Doe
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender
• The San Diego LGBT Center: Offers events, programs, and other resources for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community
• Find an LGBTQ Provider
• PFLAG: Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
• Ultimate Guide to Resources for LGBTQ+ Students
• Celebrate Pride All Year with wristbands, clothing, and more
• Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism by Philip Miller and Molly Devon
• When Someone You Love Is Kinky by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt
• The Kink And Poly Aware Professionals Directory
• CARAS: Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities
• Society of Janus: BDSM educational book list
• Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships by Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson
• My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging and Polyamory by Cooper S Beckett
• Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino
• The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton
• The Polyamory Handbook: A User’s Guide by Peter J. Benson
• The Art and Etiquette of Polyamory: A Hands-on guide to Open Sexual Relationship
• The Opening Up website: includes a list of professionals who are experienced and knowledgeable about alternative sexuality and non-monogamy
• The Polyamorist On The Couch: Q&A With Tamara Pincus On What Therapists Should Know About Big Love; Huffington Post article
National Domestic Violence Hotline
• National Domestic Violence Hotline or dial (800) 799 -7233, 24-hour Hotline.
• Nation-wide Crisis line, dial 911.
• San Diego Crisis Access and Crisis line, dial 988 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.
San Diego County
• Center for Community Solutions is a San Diego-based nonprofit organization dedicated to ending relationship and sexual violence.
• Coastal Location: (858) 272-5777 or (888) 385-4657 (24-hour Bilingual Hotline)
• East County Location: (619) 697-7477 or (888) 385-4657 (24-hour Bilingual Hotline)
• North County Location: (760) 747-6282 or (888) 385-4657 (24-hour Bilingual Hotline)
Community Resource Center‘s mission is to help our neighbors create paths to healthy food, stable homes and safe relationships.
• Encinitas: (760) 753-1156 or (877) 633-1112 (24-hour Bilingual Hotline)
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.
Serving the Community