Sexual health and wellness extends beyond the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It encompasses bodily literacy, autonomy, and confidence in one's sexuality. Deepening your understanding of your menstrual cycle, hormonal changes, and related symptoms carries over into greater confidence in your sexuality and sexual health matters.
The Impact of Menstrual Cycle on Libido 🩸
Understanding how your libido may be impacted by each phase of your menstrual cycle is crucial for sexual health awareness. It's important to recognize that there are alternative ways to foster intimate connections beyond sexual intercourse. Activities such as slow dancing, eye gazing, massages or foot rubs, having a bath together, or washing each other's hair can provide avenues for connection and intimacy.
During the menstrual phase, some individuals may experience a decrease in libido due to physical discomfort, such as cramps or fatigue.
Moving into the follicular phase, libido tends to increase for many individuals. Rising estrogen levels can contribute to higher energy levels and a heightened desire for sexual activity.
Libido tends to reach its peak in the ovulatory phase, which is typically around the middle of the cycle. The body is preparing for potential fertilization of an egg and both estrogen and testosterone levels are elevated.
Then the luteal phase begins. Libido may fluctuate during this phase, with some individuals experiencing a decrease in sexual desire. This can be attributed to progesterone dominance and potential premenstrual symptoms, such as bloating or mood changes.
It's important to remember that each person's experience with their menstrual cycle and libido is unique. Factors such as overall health, stress levels, and individual differences can also influence libido throughout the menstrual cycle. Communication and understanding between partners are key in navigating these changes and finding alternative ways to foster intimacy during each phase of the cycle.
Embracing Self-Pleasure 💦
Developing a healthy relationship with oneself intimately is a vital step towards sexual awareness and ownership. Masturbation not only teaches individuals about their likes and dislikes but also empowers them to seek pleasure independently, reducing dependency on others for sexual satisfaction.
Unveiling Pleasure: The Clitoris 🔘
The clitoris is a remarkable organ deserving of greater recognition and understanding. Many people are unaware of its anatomy and function. By raising awareness and education, we can promote a more inclusive and pleasurable sexual experience for all.
Many people think of the clitoris as a small, protruding, button-like organ. In fact, that's just the extension of the body of the clitoris. The full clitoris is ten times the size most people think it is versus the ‘little hill’ as it's Greek name suggests.
STI’s + Breaking Stigma
STIs often carry unnecessary stigma, hindering timely diagnosis and treatment. In an effort to destigmatize STIs, we must question why there is so much shame associated with these infections. Comparing them to common illnesses like colds or stomach viruses can help shift perceptions and encourage more open conversations about sexual health. By reducing stigma, we can help more people seek the necessary care they deserve.
According to the World Health Organization, >1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide, the majority of which are asymptomatic.
Each year, there are an estimated 374 million new infections with one of four curable STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.
Here are some STI organizations and resources. These organizations offer a range of resources, information, and support for individuals seeking assistance with STI-related concerns.
- Planned Parenthood
- American Sexual Health Association
- CDC Division of STD Prevention
- The STI Project
- National Coalition of STD Directors
The central theme of this year’s Sexual Health Awareness Month was consent. Here, we explore that in more detail.
Consent is a fundamental aspect of healthy and consensual sexual experiences. It involves freely and willingly agreeing to engage in sexual activities without any form of coercion or manipulation. Consent can be given both in new partnerships and within existing relationships. It is essential to be aware of subtle signs of coercion or pressure, recognizing when you feel uncomfortable, and addressing it.
In relationships, open communication allows for refusal without causing feelings of rejection or guilt.
Historical and Societal Attitudes Towards Consent
Historically, societal attitudes towards consent have been influenced by pop culture, particularly in film and TV. These mediums have often perpetuated the idea that men should always be pursuing sex, while women are portrayed as having little agency or personal satisfaction. However, it's important to challenge these norms and understand that consent should be based on mutual desire and respect. Owning and honoring your libido is crucial, as is recognizing that it's okay to not want sexual activity at certain times.
Teaching Consent from Childhood
Teaching consent starts at a young age. Forcing affection on children, such as ordering them to hug or kiss friends, family, or strangers, can undermine their ability to consider their comfort level and boundaries. This practice can carry over into adulthood, blurring the lines between societal expectations and personal desires. It's important to create an environment that empowers individuals to express their consent and set boundaries without fear of offending or causing awkwardness.
Understanding Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is a serious issue that affects people of all genders and age groups. It's essential to be aware of the statistics surrounding sexual assault and abuse, as this helps raise awareness and promote necessary support systems for survivors.
In the United States, sexual abuse is a significant issue that affects people of all genders and age groups. According to statistics, an estimated 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. These alarming numbers highlight the importance of raising awareness, providing support systems for survivors, and working towards preventing sexual abuse in our society.
Here are some top sexual abuse organizations that provide support and resources for survivors:
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) - RAINN is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States. They provide a hotline, online chat, and resources for survivors of sexual abuse.
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) - NSVRC provides resources and information on sexual violence prevention and intervention. They also offer training and technical assistance to professionals working in the field.
- National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) - NAESV is a national advocacy organization that works to end sexual violence and support survivors. They provide policy advocacy, training, and resources for individuals and organizations.
- It's On Us - It's On Us is a movement to end sexual assault on college campuses. They provide resources, campaigns, and tools to promote awareness and prevention of sexual violence.
- Joyful Heart Foundation - Joyful Heart Foundation works to support survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. They offer healing and wellness programs, advocacy, and education initiatives.
These organizations are dedicated to supporting survivors, raising awareness, and working towards ending sexual abuse in our society.