Join us as we dive into an essential topic that deserves our attention: Sexual Health Awareness Month.
This annual observance serves as a reminder that sexual health is a fundamental aspect of overall well-being, deserving of open conversations, accurate information, and destigmatization. Throughout this month, we're dedicated to shedding light on various aspects of sexual health – from safe practices and consent to vital education and breaking taboos. Join us on this journey to explore, learn, and empower ourselves and our communities to embrace healthy attitudes and knowledge about our bodies and relationships.
Why is Sexual Health Awareness so important and what does it mean to you?
Sexual health awareness is essential because it ensures people have the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions about their sexual health. It means understanding how to protect yourself and your partner against sexually transmitted infections, understanding what birth control options are available, and knowing how to engage in consensual sex -- free from fear, coercion, or manipulation. For me personally, sexual health awareness means also taking PLEASURE into account, as it's equally as important as our physical health. How are we nurturing our sexual health from all angles?
So, I've heard about different types of birth control – which one should I consider if I'm not really into pills or injections?
Before deciding which birth control option is right for you, I recommend talking to your doctor or healthcare provider. It's important to consider your lifestyle and preferences when making a decision. If you're not into pills or injections, there are many other alternatives available such as intrauterine devices, diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges, condoms etc. I personally prefer tracking my cycle and condoms always, since they protect against STIs as well!
How do I bring up the topic of getting tested for STIs with my new partner without making things awkward?
It's totally understandable to want to bring up the topic of getting tested for STIs without making things awkward. A good way to approach the conversation is by talking about your own testing history and how it's important for both of you to get tested regularly as part of a healthy relationship. You can also discuss any concerns or questions either of you may have in order to create a casual, yet healthy, sexual experience! If we were able to ask about when we last got tested for covid and precautions we took, we can make this happen too.
What are some signs that I should be on the lookout for to know if I might have an STI?
Some common symptoms include itching, burning, or a rash in your genital area; unusual discharge from the vagina or penis; pain or swelling in the testicles; and pain during intercourse. Some other signs to be mindful of is having unprotected sex with current or new partners, having sex with someone who confirmed they have an STI, or feeling generally off. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to make an appointment with your local doctor, clinic, or do an at home STI test to see where you're at! Remember, you may need to wait two weeks after unprotected sex to see if you've contracted an STI or not.
Let's talk about consent – like, how can I make sure we're on the same page with my partner without making the mood super awkward?
Consent is key! Make sure you and your partner have a conversation about what you're comfortable with and how far you want to go. Talk about boundaries, safe words, and anything else that comes up so both of you feel respected and heard. I love to do this in a casual setting, and almost make it a part of foreplay: Discuss the sexy things you want to do with each other, how you would like to do them, what changes you would make, etc. This will make the experience juicy, consensual, and everyone gets what they want.
Are those stories about using garlic for yeast infections legit, or just some old wives' tale?
It may be true garlic can help with yeast infections due to its antifungal and antiviral properties, I take garlic daily and have a VERY happy vag! I also suggest warm lemon water with sea salt to neutralize your pH. However, you should always speak with a doctor before trying any home remedies as they may not be suitable for everyone or your particular condition.
How do you think parents can effectively initiate conversations about sex education with their children?
When it comes to talking about sex with kids, I believe in the importance of openness and honesty as early as possible. Parents should try to make their children feel comfortable discussing sex so they can ask questions and get accurate information. They should also be able to provide resources such as books or websites that can help teach them more about healthy relationships, contraception, and other aspects of sexual health. My parents did exactly this when I was about 5 years old, and I felt so comfortable asking them ANYTHING about sex and felt supported as my sexual journey unfolded.
Can you explain the concept of sexual health disparities and how they can impact marginalized communities differently in terms of access to education and care?
Sexual health disparities are the discrepancies between different communities in terms of access to sexual healthcare, education, and services. For example, marginalized communities such as people of color or those living in poverty often lack access to quality sexual health services due to financial constraints, language barriers, cultural expectations, etc. This can lead to higher rates of STI transmission and unplanned pregnancy among these communities, as well as decreased awareness of available sexual health resources. In the sexual health and pleasure space, we are very sensitive to this topic since the ultimate goal would be to strive for better access and education in order to reduce disparities and promote healthy sexual practices.
How can I support a friend who's going through an STI diagnosis without making them feel embarrassed?
First off, it's important to show compassion and understanding! STIs are so common, and we will all contract at least 1-2 before we die if we are sexually active. Make sure you are actively listening to your friend, not making assumptions or judgements about their situation. Show that you care by reminding them of available resources, listen to their concerns, and drill this in: STIs are normal, not dirty, and anyone is at risk.