Sexual health
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Talking about sexual health: Do’s and don’ts

By Harish P Friday, April 7, 2017 - 15:40
Promoting sexual health through free, open and healthy discussions is as important as busting myths around it. This week, we bring you a definitive sexual health talk guide.

You and your partner are the two most important people who should know everything about your sexual health. There can be more! But how do you know what's hurting when? One of the first steps is to communicate. If you aren't comfortable with your partner; allow yourself to share it with friends and family.

 

Do…

  • Your homework well
    It’s obvious that just because you’re an adult, you’re not the last word on sex and sexual health. There’s nothing wrong in getting knowledge on these matters that might help you sail through those unexpected moments. Books, websites, family doctors etc. can fill you in with basic and latest facts on important issues like menstruation, pregnancy, STIs etc.
  • Listen
    While you might be loaded with information (or misinformation), do remember that this is a conversation and not a sermon. Try not to be dismissive or judgmental 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 wherever required.
  • Be age-appropriate
    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.
  • Keep it casual
    Try not make a ceremony out of talking about sexual health. Raise the topic at suitable but spontaneous occasions 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. 

Don’t…

  • Leave it all to others
    While good schools do devote resources to sex-education, you’d better not assume that everyone knows just to avoid some embarrassment. 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 learnings. Also, your partner would like to hear it from you than a school teacher or their ex.
  • Be preachy
    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 gender reassignment surgery. Chances are that if you are not in their shoes, you may never know how they feel.
  • Be snoopy
    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.
  • Be heteronormative
    Being heteronormative means to regard homosexuality or other sexuality as abnormal. The biggest sexual health threat to the LGBT community is lack of proper information, visibility and acceptance. This leads to poor self-image and other mental health issues among LGBT teenagers. If you aren't sure of someone's gender or what they would like to be identified 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. Some people do find it offensive. 

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.
 
What are your tips to start a conversation about sex? State them below of join us on Facebook. If you have a question, visit our discussion forum.

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