You’re probably familiar with the Declaration of Independence (or your country’s equivalent), but what about the Declaration on Sexual Pleasure? Created in 2019 at the World Congress of Sexual Health, the declaration tells us that “pleasurable and safe sexual experiences free of discrimination and violence is a fundamental part of sexual health.”
The document goes on to urge governments to create policy and legislation that makes sexual health a priority for its citizens—pretty cool, right? The World Association for Sexual Health is a staunch advocate and lives up to the name; they named September Sexual Health Awareness Month.
To celebrate, we’re giving you the details on what the month means, what sexual health really is, and how to bring the celebration home. But don't worry, because you can practice these tips any time of the year!
What is Sexual Health Awareness Month?
The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) established Sexual Health Awareness Month in 2010. Their goal was to improve sexual health awareness around the world, and their first theme was “Let’s Talk About It!” The idea was to break taboo and talk about sex in new ways.
Previous themes included “Sexual Pleasure in Times of COVID-19.” Pretty on point if you ask us. 2020 was long, and the pandemic is still stressful. But as the declaration tells us, sexual health is important all the time, and pleasure is an important part of the human experience.
The WAS notes that “life must go on and that sexuality is an inseparable and essential part of human beings.”
Sex and pleasure is also good for us, and there are many benefits to orgasms, sex and masturbation. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, what is sexual health anyways?
What Is Sexual Health?
You can think of sexual health a bit like a pyramid. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s Pyramid of Basic Needs, it’s a bit like that. On the bottom of the pyramid you can find the real foundations of health, like shelter and food. Once those needs are filled, you move up to the next section of the triangle, which includes security, friendship, and creativity.
If you were to create a pyramid of sexual health, it wouldn’t include food, but consent and safety would be a great foundational piece. Consensual sex is the foundation on which sexual health rests, and even in partnerships and couples, it requires communication. Understanding what your partner wants and needs is key to making them comfortable during intimacy.
After that come the basics of sexual wellness; this includes addressing STIs, vaginal health, infections, and even conditions like erectile dysfunction and other sexual disorders.
Sexual wellness and health affects men and women, trans and nonbinary people. And it can affect each individual differently; Howard Brown Health includes pelvic exams, chest/breast exams, mammogram referrals, STI screenings, HIV screening, birth control consultation, hormone replacement therapy consultation, and pregnancy tests in their sexual wellness care.
These services are critical to sexual wellness and health and are best handled by medical professionals, like a primary care doctor or OBGYN. We recommend regular checkups at your doctor’s suggestion as well as check-ins when something isn’t right.
Many health care providers use the PLISSIT model to address sexual functioning. This is important because general medical programs often only include 3 to 10 hours of sexual health education. As a result, only about 12% of nurses address sexual health with their clients.
The PLISSIT model is also a pyramid, or triangle. It stands for: Permission, Limited Information, Specific Suggestions and Intensive Therapy.
Essentially, the provider starts off by creating a safe space for you to address sexual health concerns, perhaps by asking if there’s something you’d like to discuss. The provider then offers possible causes of any symptoms you may bring up, then move on to offering suggestions to solve the problem. Lastly, a referral can be made to a specialist, like a pelvic floor therapist or a gynecologist.
Pleasure As A Priority
Once you’ve established a basis of sexual health, pleasure can really become a priority. Basically, you’re ready to move up the pyramid and expand your knowledge! That means understanding your intimate anatomy and how you achieve orgasm.
It takes time, exploration, and patience, but making pleasure a priority comes with many benefits. Plus—who doesn’t love a good orgasm?!
Sounds Great! How Can I Celebrate?
There are many ways to celebrate Sexual Health Awareness Month. Here are just a few!
- Book your STI test. Haven’t been tested in a while? There’s no time like the present. Sexually active adults should be tested regularly for yours and your partner’s safety! If finances are an issue, call your local Planned Parenthood. That’s what they’re there for!
- Plan a sexy staycation. Even after the long Labor Day weekend is over, you can still plan a long weekend or just a few steamy activities to enjoy solo, or with a partner. Pleasure is the epitome of self-care. We recommend a generous amount.
- Try a new toy. Experimentation is key to discovering your desires! Consider adding a new toy to your arsenal or purchasing your first. We have options for both beginners and advanced toy users, and Osé 2 provides incredble clitoral and G-spot stimulation! Guaranteed to deliver delicious blended orgasms, no vibration required.
We hope you’ll find more ways to celebrate Sexual Health Awareness Month. If you like, feel free to tag us in a post with your sexual wellness recommendations; we’d love to see what pleasure activities you’re up to!