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10 health benefits of having more sex

It eases stress.

Does your relationship need a 'love drug'?
If you're stressed, sex may be the last thing on your mind. But if you can get in the
mood, sex is a great stress-reliever. The act of sex floods your brain with all sorts
of feel-good chemicals while reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
Dopamine, which impacts the brain's pleasure and reward centers; endorphins, which can
reduce pain and stress; and oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, are all released
during sex, with higher levels after orgasm.
It boosts mood.
Oxytocin promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. And you don't have to boink like
bunnies to feel that way.
A study of 30,000 American men and women between 1989 and 2012 found that having
sex at least once a week in a committed relationship was enough to make people happy.

Want more sex? Get better sleep. Want better sleep? Have more sex
It's more than the coital act that brings benefits. Studies of older adults found that holding
hands, hugging, kissing and mutual stroking also contribute to a greater quality of life.
Getting it on can ward off depression, too. Studiesshow that men and women who have
intercourse with their partners have greater satisfaction with their mental health.
(Unfortunately, the benefits didn't extend to masturbation.)
But the boost doesn't appear to work for casual sex or hookups. One study of nearly 7,500
US college students across 14 public universities found that those who had more hookups
had lower levels of happiness and self-esteem, and higher levels of depression and anxiety.
In contrast to the notion that men are more likely to be OK with casual sex, the researchers
found no differences between the sexes.
It improves sleep.
Prolactin, a hormone that relaxes you, is also released after an orgasm. The combination of
prolactin and all the rest of the "feel-good" hormones are why most people sleep better after
To get the highest amount of prolactin, science suggests having an orgasm with a partner if
possible. Research shows that the level of prolactin in both men and women after
intercourse can be "400% greater than that following masturbation."
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation -- which affects a third of Americans -- can also impact
sexual satisfaction. A study of nearly 10,000 women ages 50 to 79 found that those who got
fewer than seven to eight hours of sleep a night were less likely to be sexually active. The
older the woman, the more likely she was to report less sex when sleep-deprived.

Sacrificing sleep? Here's what it will do to your health
Sleep disorders can play a role. For example, men and women with obstructive sleep
apnea, characterized by loud snoring and periods of breathing cessation, report a less
active sex life.
Men are especially hard-hit. To produce testosterone, men need a good period of restful,
uninterrupted sleep. Without that, they could have lower levels of testosterone and
suffer erectile dysfunction.
What happens when sleep is improved? Good news for both sexes: Libido goes up.
According to a 2015 study, women who got a good night's sleep were more likely to
experience sexual desire the next day. In fact, a one-hour increase in sleep duration
correlated to a 14% increase in the odds that a woman would engage in sex with her
And researchers at Walter Reed Army Hospital found that using a CPAP machine, a
breathing apparatus used to correct sleep apnea, improved sexual function and satisfaction
for all men in their study but was especially helpful to those with erectile dysfunction.
Read: Do you get enough sleep?
It boosts your immunity.
Having regular sex may also help you fight off disease.
Researchers at Pennsylvania's Wilkes University asked US college students how often they
had sex each week and then compared the levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that
functions as the body's first line of defense, in their saliva.

Reasons for avoiding sex are often treatable
Students who had sex once or twice a week had the highest levels of immunoglobulin A:
30% higher than those who had no sex, but also those who had sex three or more times a
week. In addition, students who were in longer-term, satisfying relationships had the highest
levels of the antibody.
That makes sense when you consider research on social support and the immune system.
A study of 276 healthy volunteers at the University of Pittsburgh found that those with the
most diverse social networks, including not just lovers but family, friends and organizations,
were the least likely to catch colds.
It decreases risk of prostate cancer.
Good news for men: Frequent ejaculation appears to be linked to a lower risk for prostate
A 2004 study published in the British Medical Journal studied the sex life of over 50,000
American males between the ages of 40 and 75. Men reporting 21 or more ejaculations a
month were less likely to get prostate cancer than men who ejaculated four to seven times a
month. A follow-up study published in 2016 showed the same results.
It improves heart health.
Men who make love at least two times a week are 45% less likely to have heart disease
than men who have sex only once a month or less, according to a study by the New
England Research Institute.
The 17-year study, which began in 1987, tracked the sex lives of over 1,000 men age 40 to
70; the researchers eliminated other risk factors from the results, such as age, weight,
cholesterol and blood pressure.

Why some make so much noise during sex
Women also reap the heart-healthy benefits of sex. A 2016 study found that women who
said they had frequent, extremely satisfying sex had a lower risk of hypertension, a common
precursor to heart disease.
"Good sexual quality may protect older women from cardiovascular risk in later life," said
study author Hui Liu, an associate professor of sociology at Michigan State University.
That makes sense, said sex and relationship educator Laura Berman, because of the way
women view their sexual relationships.
"It's not so much the number of orgasms or how vigorous the sexual experience that
predicts a woman's sexual satisfaction," Berman said. "It's how close she feels to the
person she is having sex with, through kissing and cuddling as well as orgasms. That is the
key to her emotional and physical well-being, which benefits her health and her heart and
everything else."
It enhances intimacy.
Want more affection in your life? Have more sex with your partner.

Falling in love deactivates parts of your brain 01:57
A series of four studies of committed couples in the United States and Switzerland found
that having sex created more affection, not only in the moments after sexual intimacy but
hours later, even in couples with children or those married long past the "honeymoon
Moreover, for couples who felt more affection after sex, the effects were still evident six
months later.
"The more overall sex they had, the more affection; the less sex they had, the less positive
affection," said clinical psychologist Anik Debrot of the University of Lausanne in
Switzerland, who led the study.
And the sex didn't have to be intercourse for there to be positive effects, Debrot said.
"Moments that were experienced as erotic or sexually arousing were just as predictive of
positive emotions."
CNN contributor Ian Kerner, a psychotherapist who specializes in sex and couples therapy,
agrees. When couples keep the sexual dimension of their relationship alive and intact, "it
leads to an overall warming up of the relationship, which includes more touch and non-
sexual affection as well as higher level of regard towards their partner," he said.
It boosts cognition.
If you're looking for a good reason to energize your sex life as you age, here it is.

How marriage might be linked to lower dementia risk
Studies show that keeping your sex life active into old age protects and even improves your
brain's executive functioning and recall. Analyzing data from the English Longitudinal Study
of Ageing, British researchers found that sexually active men between the ages 50 and 89
had increased cognitive function, as measured by number sequencing and word recall,
even after adjusting for quality of life, loneliness, depression and physical activity.
Women had the same benefit from sex for memory but not number sequencing.
Both men and women who were more sexually active did better on the tests than those who
had less sex.
In a follow-up study, the researchers found that having sex at least once a week was highly
predictive of improved cognitive functioning, especially verbal fluency.
It limits pain.
Studies have found that sexual activity can reduce menstrual cramps, chronic back and leg
pain, even migraines.
A 2013 survey of 1,000 German headache sufferers found that 30% of those with cluster
headaches and 60% of those with migraines reported partial or total relief of their pain if
they had sex during an episode.
Orgasm researcher Barry Komisaruk of Rutgers University points to research that states
"the sensory input produced by vaginal stimulation produces a powerful analgesic effect"
and that he says does not interfere with tactile sensitivity.
In a study Komisaruk co-authored with Rutgers sex researcher Beverly Whipple, who
coined the term "G-spot," they found that the pressure of pleasurable vaginal stimulation
increased pain tolerance by 40%. When the women came to orgasm, their pain tolerance
increased by nearly 75%.

Sex rarely causes hearts to stop, research says
Scientists give the credit to hormones released during sex, like endorphins, which block
pain and stress, and oxytocin, the hormone that helps mothers and babies bond and which
has pain-relieving properties.
It's exercise?
Can sex be a form of exercise? Yes, sort of, if you are young and healthy and spend at
least 30 minutes doing it.
A study of 20 young healthy couples found that they burned an average of 85 calories for
each half-hour romp in bed. Men burned more than women, at about 100 calories versus
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"By comparison," the study authors write, "the level of intensity that is exerted from sexual
activity could be higher to that of walking at 4.8 km/h but lower to that of jogging at 8 km/h."
Still, a man would burn about the same amount of calories in a half-hour of cooking,
bartending or driving a truck, while women get the same result from desk work and sitting in
But which is more fun? Plus, experts point to the other exercise benefits from sex: the
stretching of muscles and tendons, the flexing of joints and the increase of respiration, heart
rate and blood pressure that in a healthy man or woman can energize the body.
10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex

1. Helps Keep Your Immune System Humming
“Sexually active people take fewer sick days,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD a sexual
health expert.
People who have sex have higher levels of what defends your body against germs, viruses, and
other intruders. Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that college students
who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of the a certain antibody compared to
students who had sex less often.
You should still do all the other things that make your immune system happy, such as:

 Eat right.
 Stay active.
 Get enough sleep.
 Keep up with your vaccinations.
 Use a condom if you don’t know both of your STD statuses.


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2. Boosts Your Libido
Longing for a more lively sex life? “Having sex will make sex better and will improve
your libido,” says Lauren Streicher, MD. She is an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and
gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
For women, having sex ups vaginal lubrication, blood flow, and elasticity, she says, all of which
make sex feel better and help you crave more of it.

3. Improves Women's Bladder Control
A strong pelvic floor is important for avoiding incontinence, something that will affect about
30% of women at some point in their lives.
Good sex is like a workout for your pelvic floor muscles. When you have an orgasm, it
causes contractions in those muscles, which strengthens them.

4. Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Research suggests a link between sex and lower blood pressure, says Joseph J. Pinzone, MD. He
is CEO and medical director of Amai Wellness.
“There have been many studies,” he says. “One landmark study found that sexual intercourse
specifically (not masturbation) lowered systolic blood pressure.” That's the first number on your
blood pressure test.

5. Counts as Exercise
“Sex is a really great form of exercise,” Pinzone says. It won’t replace the treadmill, but it counts
for something.
Sex uses about five calories per minute, four more calories than watching TV. It gives you a one-
two punch: It bumps up your heart rate and uses various muscles.
So get busy! You may even want to clear your schedule to make time for it on a regular basis.
“Like with exercise, consistency helps maximize the benefits,” Pinzone says.

6. Lowers Heart Attack Risk
A good sex life is good for your heart. Besides being a great way to raise your heart rate, sex
helps keep your estrogen and testosterone levels in balance.
“When either one of those is low you begin to get lots of problems, like osteoporosis and
even heart disease,” Pinzone says.
Having sex more often may help. During one study, men who had sex at least twice a week were
half as likely to die of heart disease as men who had sex rarely.

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7. Lessens Pain
Before you reach for an aspirin, try for an orgasm.
“Orgasm can block pain,” says Barry R. Komisaruk, PhD, a distinguished service professor at
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. It releases a hormone that helps raise your pain
Stimulation without orgasm can also do the trick. “We’ve found that vaginal stimulation can
block chronic back and leg pain, and many women have told us that genital self-stimulation can
reduce menstrual cramps, arthritic pain, and in some cases even headache,” Komisaruk says.

8. May Make Prostate Cancer Less Likely
Going for the gusto may help ward off prostate cancer.
Men who ejaculated frequently (at least 21 times a month) were less likely to get prostate
cancer during one study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical
You don’t need a partner to reap this benefit: Sexual intercourse, nocturnal emission, and
masturbation were all part of the equation.
It's not clear that sex was the only reason that mattered in that study. Lots of factors
affect cancer risk. But more sex won’t hurt.

9. Improves Sleep
You may nod off more quickly after sex, and for good reason.
“After orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for the feelings of
relaxation and sleepiness" after sex, says Sheenie Ambardar, MD. She is a psychiatrist in West
Hollywood, Calif.

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10. Eases Stress
Being close to your partner can soothe stress and anxiety.
Ambardar says touching and hugging can release your body's natural “feel-good hormone.”
Sexual arousal releases a brain chemical that revs up your brain’s pleasure and reward system.
Sex and intimacy can boost your self-esteem and happiness, too, Ambardar says. It’s not only a
prescription for a healthy life, but a happy one.
10 Things Men Wish Women Knew About Sex

1. We Respond to Praise

It's believed that men are so consumed by our libido that we have no self-
consciousness surrounding sex. But men are no different from women when it
comes to compliments as catalysts for sexual confidence. This praise can be
delivered before reaching the bedroom (give us the once-over and tell us how
buff we look), and after (give us the once-over and tell us how buff we look
naked). Along those lines, men worry about the size of their guts (and other
measurable organs), their hair (or lack thereof) and other attributes. Try to be
extra affirming about those sensitivities.

2. We Fear Intimacy…

…but not for the reason you think! Studies have shown that boys are more
affectionate, even more expressive, than girls until they reach school age. At
that time, social repression begins—of words, thoughts, feelings—and our
desire for human connection goes underground. So taboo is this desire for
intimacy that its possibility can terrify men—not because it's smothering, but
because we realize how desperate we are for it. What's a woman to do? First,
understand that your guy's hasty retreat post-sex may be about his own shock
at how much he craves a connection with you (and how much he's denied it in
life). Then, retreat a little yourself. This gives him time to see that his boyhood
habits are, in fact, perfectly manly.

3. We Appreciate Sex for Sex's Sake

Having said that about intimacy, sometimes a little "throw-me-down sex" is
the right medicine. According to Joe Kort, PhD, a psychotherapist and
sexologist, "Men want their wives to enjoy raw sex, not just endure it or take it
personally. For men, it's not about dominating a woman, but ravishing her."
On occasion, try letting him ravish you.

4. We Are Not Just Our…

The penis gets all the press, but men have "many erogenous zones," says
psychologist Melodie Schaefer, PsyD. "Men tend not to correct women
because they're afraid women will shut down and not touch them at all. But
there are many places a woman should touch." Like the chest, the inner thighs
and face. Two other key areas: Gently gripping a man's testicles can be a real
turn-on, as it blends control with release. Also, stimulating the perineum, the
area between the scrotum and anus, will heighten pleasure during oral sex.

5. We Encourage Fantasies

"Men want to share their fantasies but worry their wives will shame or judge
them," says Dr. Kort. Similarly, Dr. Schaefer reports that men wish women
would reveal their imaginings. Want to open yourself to these
possibilities? Try making a game of it. First, and most important, promise not
to judge the other; then, privately write out scenarios that have tantalized you
and place them in a box. When you are next intimate, pull one out. If you're
both comfortable, give it a shot. If not, Dr. Kort recommends asking the
author a key question: What about this fantasy do you like? Sometimes, its
themes can be addressed in different, more comfortable scenarios.

6. We Like It When You Talk

Talking during sex stimulates more than our ears. What kind of talk? Dirty,
praising and instructive are great starts. As amusing as it may sound, a
woman's words can make a guy feel as potent and virile as a Roman gladiator,
even if he's a suburban banker.

7. We Need Your Honesty

Sex can solve the stresses of a relationship, but it's often where the stresses
show up. If we complain about a lack of sex (or your doing certain things only
on our birthday), we may be overlooking serious issues that underpin such
withholding. We need you to enlighten us. The male ego is often tied to sex, so
it's easy for us to dismiss bedroom problems as female disinterest rather than
issues we have a part in. Avoiding these problems, however, only perpetuates
your feeling unseen and our frustration.


8. We Enjoy the Dance

Men like a good quest; unfortunately, these days, there are so few. But
romance earns that distinction. Allow us to court you; make us deserve your
desire. Dr. Kort makes an additional point: "Emotional intimacy is about
closeness, but sustaining sexual desire demands a certain amount of distance."
How do couples strike this tricky balance? By allowing each partner to have
what he calls "separate sexuality": a sexual life that doesn't include, but
doesn't betray, the other. "For him, that might mean allowing his wife to use
toys or letting other men look at her; for her, it might be permitting him to
watch pornography in order to experience a fantasy." Such indulgences help
maintain the balance of desire and devotion for both parties.

9. We Can Explain Pornography

Finding a spouse using pornography is a top reason couples seek counsel, says
Dr. Kort, but it shouldn't be overreacted to or pathologized. A few things to
clear up: 1. Sex addicts represent only 4 percent of the population, so it's
unlikely your man is one. 2. Because childhood experiences influence sexuality
as an adult, people are very idiosyncratic about what turns them on. In other
words, says Dr. Kort, "no woman can, nor should she, be everything to a man."
Still, the question remains: How does a woman not take pornography
personally? First, determine if your mate is compulsive, or can only have sex,
with pornography. If so, you may want to seek counseling. If not, Dr. Kort
recommends taking the secrecy out of pornography by discussing it. Use the
lens of "what about it turns him on versus what turns you off." That way, a
dialogue is created that allows for honesty, dignity and closeness.

10. We Always Need It, But Not for the Reason You Think

Men are accused of being sexually insatiable, but women should rethink this.
"Men see sex as a celebration," says Dr. Schaefer. "They wish women would
take more of a 'carpe diem' approach to it. We move through life at the speed
of sound, with multiplying challenges and pressures. It's easy to allow
demands on our time and energy to rob us of the joy, pleasure and opportunity
that sex affords us. On the long list of priorities, it should not be on the bottom
rung." If that doesn't make you want to "seize the day" (or something else),
consider the health benefits: Orgasms release oxytocin, which has been called
the "bonding hormone," bringing couples closer together while it alleviates
anxiety and stress, reduces blood pressure and promotes healing.
7 Healthy Reasons You
Should Have Sex — Right
Want to clear your complexion, boost your mood, and cut your risk of
cancer, heart disease, and other health hazards? No, the answer isn’t in a
magic pill — it’s between your sheets. That’s right: A little loving can boost
your overall health in many surprising ways.

“There have been lots of studies describing the health benefits of sex,”
says Sandra L. Caron, PhD, sex therapist and professor of family relations
and human sexuality at the University of Maine’s College of Education and
Human Development in Orono. “Most of them relate to achieving orgasm.
Nobody says you have to be with someone to do that.”

RELATED: Healthy Sex: The Ultimate Guide

That’s an intriguing sex tip for people who do not have a committed partner:
Self-pleasuring can offer sex benefits, especially those specifically related to
having a good orgasm.

So whether you’re coupled up or flying solo, check out this list of healthy
side effects of regular sex:

1. Improved Heart Health — Yes, Sex Is Exercise

Just like any physical activity, healthy sex is good for your heart. A study
published in January 2015 in the American Journal of Cardiology found that
men who had sex twice weekly or more had less risk of cardiovascular
diseases, like stroke or heart attack, than those who had sex once a month
or less.

And for those who worry that the exertion involved in sex is a threat to the
heart, the American Heart Association's Scientific Statement on Sexual
Activity and Cardiovascular Disease says that having sex is safe for people
who can exercise with no heart problems in the range of 3 to 5 metabolic
equivalents (METs). METs are a measure of the energy (calories) expended
during an activity. Exercising at 3 METs is about the same as walking at a
moderate pace, while 5 METs is like a low impact aerobic workout.

Having sex can actually be considered a rather good form of exercise: A
small study published in October 2013 in the journal PLoS One showed that
men burned an average of 4 calories a minutes during sex sessions that
averaged 25 minutes, and women burned off 3 calories. That's a lot more
fun than toiling away on a treadmill.

RELATED: 9 Natural Ways to Boost Your Sex Life

2. Sweet Pain Relief, Even From Menstrual Cramps

Just looking at your partner — or even a photo of your partner — can help
ease pain. In another study published in PLoS One that was performed at
Stanford University in California, anesthesiologists showed participants
photos of their romantic partners or photos of attractive strangers, or asked
them to engage in a word game. They found that looking at romantic
partners significantly dulled the experience of pain. So even though you
might think pain is a barrier to sex, consider this a sex benefit worth the
time and effort: Take a moment to really look at your lover.

Other studies have found that women may get some relief from menstrual
crampsthrough a good orgasm.

3. Less Stress and Lower Blood Pressure

Sex can help relieve stress by raising endorphins and other hormones that
boost mood. As a form of exercise, it can also help calm you down. In
addition, a Scottish study published in the
journal Biological Psychology found that sexual activity prevents increases in
blood pressure during stressful events. While this effect was more
pronounced in people who had sex with penetration, nonpenetrative sex and
masturbation can also help you stay serene.
4. Possible Reduction of Prostate Cancer Risk

A study published in December 2016 in the journal European Urology found
that men who who ejaculate more than 21 times per month, compared with
those who do so four to seven times times per month, were 20 percent less
likely to develop prostate cancer. While more research is needed to confirm
this link, it appears that men who ejaculate regularly may reduce their risk
of prostate cancer.

5. Better Sleep With a Bonus: Increased Sexual Desire

According to the National Sleep Foundation, orgasms release the hormone
prolactin, which can help you feel sleepy and relaxed. So don’t be too
surprised if you and your partner doze off shortly after a satisfying session
— and wake up feeling refreshed. This sleep connection also works in
reverse: According to a study published in May 2015 in the Journal of Sexual
Medicine, getting enough shut-eye can improve your sexual response and
may increase the chance that you'll engage regularly in sex. Researchers
discovered that when women slept for longer periods of time, they
reported greater sexual desire the next day.

6. Happier Mood and a Stronger Relationship

It’s no wonder you’ve got a more positive outlook after sex: There are
biochemical rationales for experiencing improved mood as a sex benefit,
from the neurotransmitters that may be released during healthy sex to the
mood enhancers contained in semen itself. “And,” adds Dr. Caron, “there’s a
lot to be said simply for the mood-boosting effect of having a nice
connection with somebody that you trust and care about.”

Plus, your frisky play may result in a serious afterglow than can, in turn,
help you bond better with your partner, according to a report published in
March 2017 in the journalPsychological Science. In this study, which
examined newlywed couples who kept a two-week sexual diary, researchers
found that partners were satisfied for a full 48 hours after sexual activity.
And those who were lucky enough to experience this afterglow went on to
report more happiness in their relationship several months later.
7. Glowing, Younger-Looking Skin

That fabled "morning after" glow? It’s not just your imagination; you really
do look better after having sex. “Sex even helps you look younger,” says
Caron. That glow can be attributed to a combination of stress relief, better
mood, and the flush of blood under your skin that’s a natural part of the
arousal process.

Enjoying a healthy sex life is one of the great joys in life. Knowing intimacy
could be a boon for your long-term health as well make it that much more
Understanding Sexual Health

Coming up with a definition of sexual health
is a difficult task, as each culture, sub-culture, and individual has different standards of
sexual health. ASHA believes that sexual health includes far more than avoiding
disease or unplanned pregnancy. We also believe that having a sexually transmitted
infection or unwanted pregnancy does not prevent someone from being or becoming
sexually healthy.

Here is ASHA’s definition of sexual health:

Sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is
an important part of our physical and emotional health. Being sexually healthy means:

 Understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual
 Recognizing and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
 Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
 Making an effort to prevent unintended pregnancies and STDs and seek care and
treatment when needed.
 Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired.
 Being able to communicate about sexual health with others including sexual partners and
healthcare providers.

Defining Sexual Health

ASHA Board member and professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of
Medicine J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, considers the term sexual health, how it is used,
and how it can be defined.

The phrase “sexual health” encompasses a range of public health and clinical issues
related to prevention of sexually transmitted infections. I use the phrase a lot in my own
work and its widening currency is a welcome new paradigm in our field. In fact, the
concept of sexual health seems to me of fundamental relevance to all aspects of
prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
To be honest, though, all of the talk about sexual health doesn’t seem to have
influenced the day-to-day particulars of our work. Sex still is primarily seen as a set of
risk factors that we counsel against. I am convinced that this perspective on sex and
sexuality as “risk” legitimates the stigma associated with sexually transmitted infections
and contributes to our society’s poisonous intolerance of sexual diversity. A sexual
health perspective incorporates the concept of personal and epidemiologic risks of sex,
but recognizes the pervasive importance of sex in our lives.

However, I’ve begun to wonder if I know what sexual health means in the first place. It’s
a big concept, and maybe it’s natural that definitions seem idealistic, overwrought, and
self-righteous. Consider the well-known working definition of the World Health

“Sexual health is 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.”

There is a lot to agree with in this definition, especially in its recognition of the complex
physical, emotional, mental and social attributes of sexual health, and the anchoring of
sexual health in universal sexual rights. But, I find this definition to be quaintly
admonishing and parental (“…the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual
experiences…”). More importantly, however, the definition is sexually vague. No matter
how many times I’ve read, used, and cited this definition, I can’t derive from it even a
rudimentary vision of how sexual health operates in people’s daily lives. I feel the same
about the more recently wrought definition of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention, particularly because sexual rights and of sexual pleasure are absent from
that sexual health definition.

So, maybe I need to get clearer with myself about what sexual health is. And, sexual
health should be more than just the negatives: not coerced; not discriminated; not
violent. The prevalence of these negatives in many people’s lives tells us how far we
are from achieving a just and equitable society. But I think that sexual health ultimately
requires much more active involvement from all of us, and it seems quite insufficient to
hope that sexual health will arise on its own if coercion, discrimination, and violence are
finally conquered.