Our approach to Sexual Wellness
At Jooi, we believe that sexual wellness is fundamental to emotional and physical wellbeing. We do not have any preconceived ideas as to what a healthy sex life has to look like, other than one that you are happy with. We recognise that to people differ and so would their perception of sexual wellness. For some, sex is really important and is a fundamental part of their being, one that maintains a health and happiness of both the body and mind. For others, it may be less of a priority, but they may love to indulge from time to time. Jooi understands that there are others still, who find that they have less of an interest in sex and that’s OK too. Then there are those who are trying to make sense of what they like or who may find sex intriguing but daunting.
"It doesn’t matter who you, or how you are hoping to enjoy sex, what is key is that we understand some important factors around what sexual wellness means"
What does Sexual Wellness cover?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Sexual wellness takes into account emotional, physical, mental and social well-being. Rather than being limited to, it also incorporates genital and physical health and sexual function.
They describe it as –
‘…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” (WHO, 2006a)
They further describe the importance of understanding sexual health/wellness in terms of sexuality as people do not behave in one particular way, not have the same outcomes and experiences in relation to sexual wellness. It recognises that there are many factors to sexuality, and that they may not all be present or experienced by everyone.
The WHO says, ‘Sexual health cannot be defined, understood or made operational without a broad consideration of sexuality, which underlies important behaviours and outcomes related to sexual health. The working definition of sexuality is:
“…a central aspect of being human throughout life encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.” (WHO, 2006a)
A 2013 study on the impact of positive sexuality on wellbeing found:
‘ that sexual health, physical health, mental health, and overall well-being are all positively associated with sexual satisfaction, sexual self-esteem, and sexual pleasure’, Anderson (2013)
At Jooi, we promote positive sexuality, which is the understanding that sex is a healthy, natural and normal part of being human. We recognise it as understanding, respect and knowledge of sexuality, sexual difference, reproduction and the freedom of personal choice. We recognise it as being respectful of others as well as ourselves. Positive sexuality also includes safe and consensual sex, which doesn’t risk physical or emotional harm to anyone involved.
Emotional and Social Wellbeing
Positive sexuality, enjoying the sexual experiences, and fulfilling desires, can greatly contribute to our emotional and social wellbeing. Feeling fulfilled, liberated and orgasmic can make us feel relaxed, happy, content and connected. It can also help us function better and be more productive as well as helping to relieve stress and anxiety. Additionally it can help with confidence and self esteem. It’s important to remember this applies whether you are enjoying solo sexual experiences or ones with others. Conversely, if you are not feeling good about yourself in relation to sex, it can have an negative effect on your overall wellbeing. For those in relationships, it can also help you to feel closer to partners due to the release of Oxytocin, which promotes bonding. We recommend seeking help if you feel your emotional or social wellbeing is being affected.
There are numerous physical benefits from enjoying positive sexuality including improved sleep, the potential to reduce your risk of heart disease stroke and hypertension, improve bladder control and pelvic floor muscles in women, and reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, to name but a few. There are also suggestions that sexual activity in older people may help memory and cognition. Self-pleasure can help with understanding your own body, including discovering techniques for pleasure and orgasm and can help with overcoming sexual dysfunctions. Some studies suggest that frequent sexual activity – solo, or partnered – can even make you look younger, partly a result of an increase in estrogen during sex. It can certainly also make you feel younger, more alert and alive, and give you a spring in your step.
Physical Sexual Health
We believe in having fun with no regrets. As such practising safe sex and ensuring you are covered when it comes to contraception is a must. If your contraception fails, or you are worried about your health following sexual activity, then find out the details of your nearest sexual health clinic – these are staffed by sexual health people who know their stuff and you can attend anonymously so it’s worth making a visit for advice and to seek treatment if needed. There is no shame in attending a sexual health clinic, think of it in the same way that you would take care of any other part of your body. Sex is a normal part of being human – having check-ups is too.
Many people will experience problems with sexual function at some point in their lives. These can develop due to reasons such as anxiety, lack of confidence, as a result of trauma, childbirth, menopause, changes in hormones, health and medications. Don’t struggle alone with sexual difficulties. If you have a partner, try and talk to them about it so they understand why you may be behaving differently, and seek help. Depending on the difficulties you are having, it may be advisable to see a doctor or a psychosexual therapist.