Promoting sexual health through free, open and healthy discussions is as important as busting the myths around it. You and your partner are the two most important people who should know everything about your sexual health. There can be more people!
How do you know what’s hurting when? One of the first steps is to communicate. If you aren’t comfortable with your partner, share your problems with friends and family.
Love Matters, in this article, tries to help young people and adults out there struggling with these issue along with their better halves.
Your homework needs to be done well. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you know everything about sex and sexual health. There’s nothing wrong in getting knowledge on these matters that might help you sail through unexpected moments. Books, websites, family doctors, etc, can fill you in with the basic and latest facts on important issues like menstruation, pregnancy, STIs, etc.
While you might be loaded with information (or misinformation), do remember that talks with your partners are more like conversations and not sermons. Try not to be dismissive or judgemental about any personal experiences that may come from your partner. Rather, send a ‘you-can-tell-me-anything’ signal to them. You can chip in with suggestions at the end or whenever they are required.
Talking about sexual health with your 8-year-old cousin is different from talking about sex with your 28-year-old girlfriend. When it comes to your kids or teenagers, being careful and sensitive here and there should be enough. Meanwhile, most teenagers and adults are already high on sex-related information but not so much on sexual health and safety in particular. That’s where you can seek or offer help.
Try not to make a ceremony out of talking about sexual health. Raise the topic at a suitable occasion on a periodic basis. Rope in your spouse, friends and/or other family members to ease the discomfort. Do not avoid eye contact at any cost. It is important not to be too shy or nervous so that your friend or your partner develops an open and taboo-free attitude towards sex.
While good schools do devote resources to sex-education, you’d better not assume that everyone knows about it. Although schools are high on facts, they may lack the personal touch and the knowledge that you can bring to the table with your experience and learning. Also, your partner would like to hear it from you than a school teacher or their ex.
Avoid polarising judgments like ‘bad’ or ‘terrible’ when it comes to sticky issues like masturbation, pornography and so on. You may introduce certain values while talking about sexual health but remember that suggestions, interactive explorations and discussions always win over orders and prescriptions! Also try to refrain from passing a judgement on serious topics like HIV, cancer, homosexuality, abortion or a gender reassignment surgery. Chances are that if you are not in their shoes, you may never know how they feel.
A big challenge is maintaining the balance between conversation and privacy. Naturally, as an adult, you are bound to be anxious about your safety. Try and avoid being too snoopy and intrusive with someone’s personal life. Even if it is your partner.
Someone who is heteronormative regards homosexuality or other sexualities as abnormal. The biggest sexual health threat to the LGBTQ community is a lack of proper information, visibility and acceptance. This leads to a poor self-image and other mental health issues among LGBTQ teenagers. If you aren’t sure of someone’s gender or what they identify as, it is always safer to address them in neutral pronouns like ‘they’ and ‘them’.
Also, try not to be homophobic or transphobic even around straight people. Your role as a human becomes important here. You can be a pillar of support in helping and not censoring someone’s engagement with their sexuality. Being scientific and open about homosexuality even in your general conversations is a great way to start.