As a topic that's often misunderstood, it's important to know the signs of good sexual health. This is not an exhaustive list nor is it easy to really define anything as “good”, since that can mean different things for different people. The key is for you to feel your best, and to recognize if and when you should explore certain aspects of your sexuality for improvement. Remember there's no one-size-fits-all approach!
If you are feeling good about your sexual health, it’s likely that you have healthy attitudes toward sex. That means that you can talk about sex with a partner and with doctors, that you try to stay informed on your own sexual health, and that you feel comfortable enough to make informed decisions about your sexual practices based on those things. It also means being able to negotiate what’s best for each person involved in an encounter or relationship.
Having a healthy attitude towards sex doesn’t mean you have to feel comfortable talking about your favorite sex toys with the neighbor down the street. Everyone has varying levels of how open they’d like to be about their relationship with sex, and its okay to want to be more private with that! It doesn’t mean your attitude towards sex is “bad” or needs to change.
In order to have healthy sex, you need to be able to stop when things get too much or you aren't enjoying yourself. It's important for your partner(s) to be aware of and respect your boundaries, but there might be a time when you need to put your foot down and say "no".
The opposite also stands true, other people's boundaries are also valid and worthy of respect so be considerate of other people's needs and desires. A way to know if you have a healthy outlook on sex is being able to communicate clearly with your partner(s) about what you want, and what they want.
For example, if you've started having sex with someone but this person doesn't want to use protection, it can be difficult to communicate clearly without feeling like they'll take it the wrong way. That might mean taking a minute to think about whether or not this is what you really want—and then telling them so! Your well-being and values matter more than a potentially awkward conversation. This notion applies to any sexual situation where you don't feel comfortable following through.
If you do decide to have sex, talk about it first. Make sure both of you are on the same page and want the same things out of this experience.
Being able to ask for what you want and having a partner who is willing to negotiate with you is a big part of sexual health. It’s also a sign that you have good communication skills, which is essential for all your relationships, romantic and otherwise!
This can be especially important if what you want seems strange or embarrassing—for example, if you want to do something unusual in bed or try out new positions. If it were easy to just ask for these things without sounding self-conscious about it, there wouldn't be such a thing as "the awkward phase" of getting acquainted with someone new so don't fret!
This includes talking about sexual history, checkups and screenings, STI testing, birth control options, and more. Being open with each other can help ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to safer sex practices.
It’s also important for both partners to have an understanding of their own limits in terms of what constitutes safe or unsafe sex. For example: one person may be okay with unprotected oral sex but not okay with unprotected anal sex; another person may feel comfortable having unprotected vaginal intercourse only after getting tested; a third person might want to use barriers for everything! You get the idea...
The point is that every person has different needs when it comes to making decisions about what kinds of activities are “safe” or “unsafe” for them as individuals and as partners.
If you're aware of what's normal for your body, you can better understand when something is out of the ordinary. That might mean noticing that it takes a little longer to reach orgasm than usual. Or maybe you notice an unusual discharge. These are signs that something may be off, but they won't necessarily indicate a problem.
It's also important to learn about sexual health by talking about it with others and learning from their experiences as well as from experts in the field—like sex educators or physicians, who are trained in this kind of thing!
In the end, it's important to remember that sex is a natural and normal part of human life. No matter how old you are or what your experience level is, if something feels uncomfortable or painful during sex or outside of it, there's probably something wrong. It's important to talk about these things with someone who can help so they can be addressed.
Here are some ways you can keep track of your sexual health:
You may be surprised at how many people experience sexual problems, but they are often kept quiet because of shame or plain ignorance. While there’s not a straight path to good sexual health, taking care of your overall wellbeing will definitely help you define what “good” means for you. As more people reflect on their experiences and decisions and seek to improve them, the better off we all will be!