When it comes to your sex life, are you getting what you want? Are you comfortable and confident asking for what you want? Do you even know what you want? And how much do you think about your sexual health?

Sex is a normal and healthy part of life in terms of reproduction and how we express our sexuality, which is an important component of character and personality. It can provide us with love, pleasure, and intimacy. It’s also quite necessary (although not essential) for making babies.

When talking about sexual health, we often consider it purely in physical terms. The sex and the presence (or avoidance) of infection or disease.  As with any other aspect of health, and while it’s important to look after the physical elements of your sexual health, with the mental, emotional and social aspects to consider, it’s far more complex than basic mechanics. 

Sex is good for your health in a number of way, but regardless of the types of sex you’re having, safety is paramount. It’s worth remembering that if you are at risk of one STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection), you’re at risk of all of them which is why you should educate yourself on the risks and do what you can to minimise them. Where you can’t be certain of a sexual partner’s sexual history, you should be using a barrier method (ie a condom) to prevent disease transmission. 

Sexual behaviour and appetite change as we move through life – our wants and needs vary based on a large number of factors. As more is understood about sexuality amongst older adults, we can appreciate that age is just a number and it doesn’t dictate your appetite for sex. In fact, safe sex is even more of an issue among the older adult group, with STIs on the rise

Healthy sexuality should be expressed in a consensual and safe way, free of abuse. Here are my 6 C’s of Sexual Health:

Contraception

Safe sex is the best sex. Unless you and your partner are monogamous, have been tested to rule out infection, and are on the same page regarding pregnancy, you should be using a barrier method of contraception (condom).  Every time.

Check out @Get.The.Lowdown for more info on this.

Sex should be consensual. Always. The cup of tea analogy is a simple way to explain it, and it’s important to remember that consent can be withdrawn at any time. It also doesn’t apply when someone is unconscious. 

Check out @LaLaLaLetMeExplain for more info on this.

Confidence

Have the confidence to ask for what you want, or for your partner help you figure it out. Be adventurous if you want to. Or don’t if you don’t. Have the confidence to discuss the risks and how to keep yourself safe. Outside of a monogamous relationship, if your sexual partner isn’t discussing barrier contraception with you, they’re probably not discussing it with other partners, and you can assume they’re not using any 🚩. Keep yourself safe as a priority, and if you’re partner’s view on this doesn’t align with yours, find a different partner. Think about the worst case scenario if you have to.

Comfort

Sex can be uncomfortable for many reasons, but generally it should be a pleasurable experience. If you’re consensually engaging in sexual activity that is likely to make you physically or mentally uncomfortable, it is worth discussing your boundaries beforehand, and implementing a safe word. 

Contentment (Pleasure)

Know what you want, and seek it out. Prioritise your pleasure as well as your safety.

Checks

It’s important to make sure you’re looking after your sexual organs. This might mean engaging with cervical screening, checking your breasts/chest/testicles monthly, or getting checked out if you develop any new symptoms that are causing you concern. It’s also worth engaging with your local sexual health clinic regularly if you’ve been engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse, as many STIs can remain asymptomatic for a long period of time. Again, educate yourself on how to keep yourself safe, and take steps to reduce risk where possible.

Check out these for more info:

All things Sexual Health-@sh24_nhs

Breast Cancer Awareness- @coppafeelpeople

Cervical Cancer Awareness- @joscervicalcancertrust

About the Author

Ona Croft

Ona is a Registered Nurse, a Veteran and a Military Wife. She has a passion for promoting better health and has a Health Mentoring business. Ona supports people to improve their health through small and sustainable behaviour change. You can check out her website and services here. If you love this article and want to read more of her stuff, check out ‘Health and Thinness are not the same thing‘.

Ona also is very active on social media spreading solid, BS free information and advice on all things health. You can check out her socials below 👇

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