What is sexual health and why is it important? The World Health Organization describes it as follows:
Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It 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.
I believe everyone deserves a healthy sexual relationship, whatever that looks like to you. Couples have an exciting opportunity to create their own sexual and intimacy connection. Healthy sexuality comprises 20% of our relationship, but becomes an unhealthy 90% when it is filled with disappointments.
I frequently hear “we are roommates.” Our sexuality is interwoven with our self-esteem. My therapy approach improves self-esteem and the ability to connect. Sexual concerns surrounding desire, arousal, orgasms, erections and pain are all treated in my practice.
Sex and Your Overall Health
When people mention sexual health, sometimes they are talking about sexually transmitted diseases and their treatments. These are important topics, but for our purposes here, I am covering the health benefits of safe sex.
Sex isn’t just important to maintaining emotional and physical intimacy in a relationship. It is also important to your overall health. Sexual activity, intercourse and masturbation all have physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological and social benefits.
Physical benefits include of Sex include:
- lower blood pressure
- burn calories
- increase heart health
- strengthen muscles
- reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension
- increase libido
- improved immunity
- better sleep
- headache relief
Sex can even make you look between 7-12 years younger, according to one study. People with active sex lives tend to exercise more and eat better. And physical fitness may also improve sexual performance, so sex and exercise go hand in hand.
Mental health benefits
Sex on a regular basis can also improve your mental health. Studies have shown a correlation between sex and:
- increased levels of trust and intimacy in relationships
- improved ability to emotional intelligence
- better ability to use mental processes reduce distress from emotional conflicts
As we age, sexual activity may affect wellbeing and the ability to think clearly. Research found that sexually active adults between 50 to 90 years old had better memory. They were also less likely to feel depressed and lonely.
The chemical oxytocin, released during sex, can help you connect to your partner. Most couples find that consistent, mutual sexual pleasure helps keep their bond strong. Fulfilling on another’s sexual desires is pleasurable in and of itself, and leads to relationship growth.
Masturbation has its own benefits: better sex between partners, better understanding of your own body, increased ability to have an orgasm, and higher self-esteem and body image.
Make Time for Sex
There are other ways to get the benefits of sex if sex is not part of your life: exercise, interacting with a pet, having a strong network of friends, having a strong religious faith. Abstinent nuns are among the healthiest and longest-living group of people.
But if you are in a committed relationship where both partners desire sex, it’s important to be able to experience sexual satisfaction. Time and time again, I have seen the overall relationship improve when sexual issues are addressed.
No matter how busy you are, make time for sex. It’s worth it!