In today’s “health conscious” society, a healthy lifestyle is often measured by body mass and size. However, if we think long and hard, the most critical could very well be one’s sexual and reproductive health. So, how important is it for you to have a healthy sexuality, and how do you make yours a priority?
The International Conference on Population and Development defined reproductive health very broadly, going far beyond the absence of disease or infirmity:
“Within the framework of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity; reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene, addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life.”
Sexuality is a part of your life; it is a contributing defining factor that makes you who you are. Sexuality is not limited to labels and stereotypes; it goes far beyond sexual relationships, orientation and activities. The truth is, regardless of the sexual choices you make – even if that choice is never to have sex – like everyone else, you are a sexual being. And the first step towards securing a healthy sexuality is to own it. When you accept your sensations, fantasies, desires and feelings – from tenderness to passion - as normal and natural, this can help you become more accepting of who you are. You will feel more at ease with others and yourself. When an individual is comfortable with their sexuality, they are capable of making more responsible and healthier choices regarding their sexual health and their health in general.
Maintaining a healthy sexual lifestyle will make you a healthier person. Here are some easy steps to follow in achieving this goal – LIFE:
- Learn all you can about your sexuality
Do not be afraid to get to know your body. Whether you are a male or female, be the first person to know your own body and understand how your body functions sexually. Visit organisations like the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) or any other family planning service for information on sexuality; not just on your own gender, but on the opposite gender as well. It is equally important for you to know about your partner’s sexuality. You can speak with your Family Planning Counsellor, like the NFPB’s, Marge Roper, when you have questions or need clarification on issues and concerns you may have.
- Identify what steps you need to take
With sexuality comes serious decisions that you will need to make. It starts from personal hygiene to a sexual act. The sexual choices you make will be dependent of the level of respect you have for yourself. This will help you decide when to become sexually involved, with whom, how to go about it and whether the choice was really yours or the influence of someone else. When you participate in a sexual activity it should be your personal choice. No one has the right to force or coerce you.
- First things first
When you have made the decision to have sex, be responsible. Plan for the experience; do not leave it to chance. You may not have all the answers, so visit a family planning clinic and ask questions and get the guidance you need. You must think of the possibilities of getting pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or HIV. This is a part of the reality when deciding to become sexually involved. Using a contraceptive should not just be an option, it should be a plan.
- Enjoying your sexuality
For you to truly enjoy your sexuality, you must maintain a healthy sexual lifestyle by making the right sexual choices that will protect you from STIs/HIV and the strains that come with unwanted pregnancies. Understand what sex is about, and how and where to get the necessary guidance and information you need, before making the decision to become sexually active.
Family planning can save your life, make it a part of your regular healthy lifestyle practice, because if your goal in life is to be happy and healthy, you must start with a healthy sexuality.