Sexual Health

Contrary to what a stereotypical Victorian gentleman might have you think, sexual health is an essential part of both our physical and mental wellbeing. Now, what this means can be different for each person (some people enjoy lots of sex, while others don’t), but research suggests that sexual satisfaction, however that manifests for you, can be a major contributor to overall health (

Sexual dysfunction is something that a lot of people experience, regardless of gender, but talking about it isn’t so common. If you’re experiencing physical or psychological problems with sex, from erectile dysfunction to vaginal dryness or lingering PTSD from sexual abuse, it can create a sense of shame and undermine your self-confidence. That, in turn, can contribute to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

It doesn’t help that society has so many different ideas about sex. From puritanical, abstinence-only messaging designed to shame to the unrealistic excesses of some pornography, finding accurate information about how to be safe and enjoy yourself isn’t easy. There are particular challenges if you’re on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, where resources are even more scarce and the risk of stigma and ostracization is higher.

Healthy sexual relationships, on the other hand, can help build self-esteem and improve your attitude toward your own body. The actual physical act of sex may boost your endorphins like other forms of exercise. It’s also a chance to build trust and intimacy with other people, improving your connection with others.

Sex is a complicated thing. Its physical, mental and emotional effects are myriad, and exploring the connection between different factors is a challenging task for researchers. There are, however, experts who specialize in trying to help people overcome their anxieties and hangups about sex so they can have a more satisfying sexual life. There are even intimacy coordinators on film sets to ensure sex scenes can be more comfortable for everyone involved.

Your own perspective on sex is going to depend on the culture where you grew up, the attitudes of your parents, the kind of education you received as a teenager, and your own experience with relationships. It can take time and patience to figure out what works for you personally, and you could face a range of different mental health reactions, positive and negative, as you do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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