What is Sexual Health for Women?
Sexual health for women refers to a state of well-being that allows women to fully participate in and enjoy sexual activity. A range of psychological, physical, interpersonal, and social factors influence the sexual health of the woman.
Sexual health necessitates a respectful and positive approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of violence, coercion, and discrimination.
Sex requires excellent connections between the sex organs, the brain, hormone-producing glands, and the rest of the body. If one section is out of order, the desire for sex may dwindle, or the capacity to have sex may be compromised. In addition to the physical and biochemical forces at work, a woman's mental and emotional health, expectations, and experiences shape her sexuality.
What are the Benefits of a Healthy Sexual Life?
Studies have indicated that sex is extremely helpful to our health. Sex activates a variety of neurotransmitters that impact not only our brains but many other organs in our body. The benefits of sex for women include:
- Better immune system
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved self-esteem
- Better heart health, possibly including lower risk for heart disease
- Increased libido
- Better sleep
- Immediate, natural pain relief
- Decreased depression and anxiety
- Overall stress reduction, both physiologically and emotional
- Increased intimacy and closeness to a sexual partner
What are the Different Issues Connected with Woman’s Sexual Health?
Some of the issues connected with woman’s sexual health include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Low sex drive
- Pain during sex
- Difficulty with arousal and orgasms
- Unplanned pregnancy
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Chronic sexual health issues, such as PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) and endometriosis
What Causes Sexual Dysfunction in Women?
Sexual dysfunction in women may occur due to a wide range of causes – both psychological and medical. Major conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer can also contribute. But most women's problems pertaining to sexual health may have multiple issues rather than one isolated cause. In addition, many women may be reluctant to seek help until their sexual dysfunction starts causing relationship problems.
There are several other underlying medical conditions that persist and result in causing sexual issues down the line, such as high blood pressure, smoking, antidepressants, and substance abuse. Hence, it can be a gradual progression until it cannot be neglected anymore.
What are Some Strategies to Help Improve Sexual Health in Women?
Some of the strategies that can be employed to help sexual health in women include:
- Communicate with your partner: Intimacy is crucial for a healthy sex life. To set the stage for greater intimacy, get comfortable talking about your likes and dislikes with your partner. This type of communication with your partner may feel awkward at first but gets easier the more you do it.
- Utilize tools: There is no shame in utilizing some over-the-counter vaginal lubricant or other sexual enhancement products to make sex more enjoyable.
- Ask for external support: Talk to your healthcare providers, so they can adequately address any hormonal changes or underlying medical conditions. Also, talk with a behavioral therapist who specializes in relationship and sexual problems. Jointly, they can assist in optimizing your sexual response and improve your intimacy.
- Embrace your body: Women are normally more concerned about their own body flaws than their partners. Sharing your insecurities and bringing them out in the open, can help to desensitize your body shame. You can also focus more on enjoying pleasure and connection, rather than thinking about wrinkles or some extra weight.
- Focus on emotional intimacy: Sex is more than a physical act, it is also an occasion for emotional connection, which builds intimacy or closeness in a relationship. Try to take the pressure off each other when it comes to having sexual intercourse or achieving orgasm. Enjoy touching each other, kissing, and feeling physically and emotionally close.
- Regular gynecological check-ups: With regular gynecological check-ups, you can take control of your sexual, physical, and reproductive health including contraception, childbirth, and menopause. A regular gynecological check-up is an annual check-up that also screens for cancer and other infections, such as a pelvic organ or urinary tract problems, which helps to maintain your sexual health and overall well-being.
What are Other Ways to Improve Sexual Health?
Other ways that women can improve their sexual health include:
- Talk to your partner about sexual activity before it happens, including contraceptive and condom use, limits, and meaning in the relationship
- Avoid exploitative relationships
- Choose partners who are responsible, trustworthy, safe, and giving
- Appreciate their own bodies without feeling shame or disgust
- Accept refusals of sex without hostility or feeling personally insulted
- Are comfortable with their sexual identity and orientation
- Be aware of the impact of negative sexual experiences such as sexual abuse, and the impact of negative cultural messages on their sexual development
- Understand that, by working through sexual issues, women may heal emotional and psychological wounds of past experiences and damaging beliefs
- Understand the consequences of sexual activity and the impact of media messages on feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and values related to sexuality
- If sexually active, use contraception effectively to avoid unplanned pregnancy and use condoms and safer sex to avoid spreading or contracting a sexually transmitted disease