Today we celebrate the launch of Sexual Health Week, an annual awareness event led by the Family Planning Association, FPA.
Taking place since since 1997, the sexual health charity ultimately aims to inform the public, influence service providers and support health professionals in building awareness around gaining and maintaining healthier sex and relationships.
Often information regarding sexual health is linked to avoiding STI’s or unintended pregnancy, with this in mind, this years theme for Sexual Health Week focuses on pleasure and well-being, highlighting the many benefits associated with sex, for example pleasure, intimacy, stress reduction or exercise, in comparison to the negatives that we always seem to hear about.
This year, FPA are focusing on the themes of education, older people, people with learning disabilities, separating fantasy from reality and communication.
Here is a breakdown of the 3 themes we at Shine ALOUD UK consider to be important for youth sexual health.
It it vital to have the right information about your sexual health. Whether it’s information on contraception choices, periods, sexuality, pleasure, accessing GUM Clinics, STIs, HIV and AIDS, – the list could go on. We believe that by providing young people with youth friendly and age appropriate information, we can empower youth to make informed choices when negotiation sexual health.
Equip yourself with the knowledge you need to protect you and your partner, but also with information that allows you to have pleasurable experiences. There are a host of leaflets you can read to gain the information you want, in addition to accessing support from professionals at Gum Clinics, youth centers, colleges or universities. If you feel unsure, ask a questions, If you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to say so.
You need to be able to assert your feelings and views, not only during sex or in a relationship, but in life. Initially, it can be challenging and may seem awkward, but ultimately it is good for your sexual health and well-being. Talk to your partner about how you feel and what you want, but be sure to listen to them also.
Be honest, opened and direct. When you’re able to express your needs, fears, and desires to your partner, trust becomes stronger and you are able to build a better relationship. Nonverbal communication is also important, for example body language, like eye contact, leaning forward or away, or touching your partners arm are cues you should also be aware of.
Unfortunately, many young people are using pornography to plug the gaps in their non-existent or lacking sex education. However, porn is not real, so with that being said you need to separate the fiction, from the facts as porn illustrates many unrealistic ideals about sex.
Your partner may not wear heels when getting intimate, or they might not dress up as a fireman or nurse. Although this happens in porn, it may not happen in real life, but that doesn’t mean your experience isn’t as pleasurable or exciting. It’s important for you and your partner to get to know your own bodies and each others, instead of comparing yourselves to what you see on the screens.
Consent, respect, pubic hair, curves, foreskin, and contraception are some of the many elements of sex and intimacy pornography fails to show. What you see in videos can be misleading, so be sure to educate yourself, your partner and peers where possible.
We did a feature on Porn vs Reality in Issue 6, so if you haven’t seen it yet, please check it out now!
Tweet us and let us know what sexual health themes are most important to you.