Ah, September is here, and you know what that means. Well, yes, it's fall. And yes, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are finally available. But we're not talking about any of that. We're talking about…
World Sexual Health Day and Sexual Health Awareness Week!
As a company that likes to think we know a thing or two about sexual health and awareness, this is one of our favourite times of the year. So, we thought we'd take a moment to discuss all that September represents with these topics and how you can practice better sexual health in your life.
Let's get started!
World Sexual Health Day 2022
The first World Sexual Health Day was celebrated in 2010 and launched by then-President of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS), Rosemary Coates. The goal of the day is to "bring the global community together to promote sexual health and well-being."
For many, it's a day to create a world where sexual health is optimised for all.
This brings us to the theme of 2022, Let's Talk Pleasure.
Pleasure is a critical part of sexual health and is central to our health and well-being. It's an important conversation and one that doesn't happen often enough. Part of the day, which occurred on September 4th this year, is to discuss what exactly sexual pleasure is. We'll discuss this a little later.
Sexual Health Awareness Week
Beyond just World Sexual Health Day is Sexual Health Awareness Week. Because why celebrate sexual health and pleasure for just one day when you can for a whole week (or even a month!)? Sexual Health Awareness Week is from September 12th through September 18th.
The week is designed to highlight the importance of sexual health as part of overall human health. This includes getting regular checkups and testing for STIs. It's also a time for promoting and raising awareness of what makes a relationship healthy.
The hope is that weeks and experiences like this can reduce the stigma many have about sex and talk about their own sexual lives. Throughout the week, we hope people will discover new healthy practices and increase their knowledge of safe sex practices.
Sexual Health Awareness Week was started by Brook, a U.K.-based charity, to raise awareness of sexual health. As a result of their work, the Children and Social Work Act of 2017 began. This established criteria for sex education in schools, which was made mandatory in 2019 across all levels of schooling, including special education facilities.
While the week of activities has been postponed (as of this writing), you can learn about all the great upcoming events and check out resources at the Brook website.
September is Also "Pleasure Your Mate" Month
We're not professional historians or archaeologists, but we think we can safely assume that human sexuality and pleasure go back to the beginning of the human race. Yet, even after hundreds of thousands of years, we're still figuring out how the heck we can do it better and safer.
Pleasure can mean different things to different people, but it's as vital a part of a healthy life as diet and exercise.
What Do We Mean by "Sexual Pleasure?"
The working definition of sexual pleasure, as outlined by the GAB is:
"Sexual pleasure is the physical and/or psychological satisfaction and enjoyment derived from solitary or shared erotic experiences, including thoughts, dreams and autoeroticism.
Self-determination, consent, safety, privacy, confidence and the ability to communicate and negotiate sexual relations are key enabling factors for pleasure to contribute to sexual health and well-being. Sexual pleasure should be exercised within the context of sexual rights, particularly the rights to equality and non-discrimination, autonomy and bodily integrity, the right to the highest attainable standard of health and freedom of expression. The experiences of human sexual pleasure are diverse and sexual rights ensure that pleasure is a positive experience for all concerned and not obtained by violating other people's human rights and well-being." (GAB, 2016)
To us, the standout words in that statement include sexual rights, non-discrimination, "pleasure is a positive experience for all," and pleasure is "not obtained by violating others."
It's a powerful statement we hope you'll read a few times to truly understand what it says.
Here at Yoxly, we talk primarily about sexual health and STI testing and prevention, but sexual pleasure is right up there with the things we care about and hope for in all people.
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Barriers to Sexual Pleasure and How to Overcome Them
According to NATSAL, 1 in 4 men and women in a relationship do not share the same interest in sex as their partner. Whether it's a loss of interest or differing desires, some barriers to sexual pleasure include not wholly understanding how to please your partner(s) or possibly yourself. This could be due to the stigmas of sex that many of us were brought up with. It could also be that we don't feel comfortable enough to have sexual discussions with ourselves or our partners.
Of course, ageing, physical problems, and loss of libido can also play a role in preventing sexual pleasure. And for women, the risk of pregnancy and childbearing can prevent the initiation of sex.
How to Discuss Pleasure With Yourself and Your Partners
With the creation of these types of awareness programs, we've seen some major strides across the UK in positive sexual discussions. But, those discussions should be happening during all months of the year, not just Sextember–oops, we mean September. Everyone must understand that sex and pleasure play significant roles in adult life. This means that stigmas need to be erased, and lessons on sex AND pleasure should be taught (responsibly) even before adulthood is reached.
We hope that blogs like ours help, and we encourage our readers to digest any credible resources they can find if they want to learn more.
We encourage you to challenge yourself and learn more about sexual health and awareness throughout September. We also encourage you to take this time to understand your own sexual health more with STI testing.
After all, and especially after these last couple of years, don't we all deserve a little more pleasure in our lives?