September is Sexual Health Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time to remember the importance of a positive approach to sexuality. Positive sexual health can lead to improved self-esteem, a healthy body image, access to information to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual fulfillment.
In all sexual activities and relationships, both partners must be on the same page physically and emotionally. Here are some characteristics of positive sexual behaviors:
Consent and Equality
In order for both parties to enjoy a healthy sexual relationship, they must first have mutual respect for one another and a clear understanding of consent. For any relationship, it is crucial both partners are on equal footing and feel comfortable with the ability to say no to sexual activity at any time. A partner should not face negative consequences or any form of retaliation if they simply say ‘no.’
Like most things in life, communication is key. While it is important to talk things out, you also need to listen. Check in with your partner regularly about their preferences, boundaries, likes, dislikes, and feelings. Try to be aware of their body language, communicate your limits, and be able to empathize with your partner’s preferences at all times. Putting in the groundwork of communication and understanding before sexual relations occur will help avoid someone from feeling taken advantage of or uncomfortable and can make for a more fulfilling experience.
While sex can help you reach a special bond with your partner, it is important to know about the potential negative consequences involved with sexual activity. These can include sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs and STIs), unwanted pregnancy or emotionally damaging effects. Before engaging in sexual behavior, it is important to be open and honest with your partner about all of these risks.
Safety and Protection
Being proactive is a crucial positive sexual behavior. If you are or have been sexually active, make sure to get regular check-ups and frequent testing for STDs and STIs, since symptoms can often be delayed. Learn and communicate about the use of condoms, birth control or other safe contraceptive options. Find out the preferences of each person and come to an agreement on how to keep each other safe. Before any sexual activity, make sure you are on the same page with your partner about protection.
ACCESS offers regular STD and HIV testing along with critical support programs to assist you at our 35 Chicagoland locations. Find your local ACCESS health center and schedule an appointment today.