Feel like TAlking? Together for sexual health
SEXUAL HEALTH IS PART OF OVERALL HEALTH AND AFFECTS US ALL.
Being sexually healthy means that you feel comfortable with your sexuality. Sex is what you understand it to be: besides sexual intercourse, sex can also mean caressing, kissing, hugging, masturbation, oral sex, and much more.
Sexual feelings, fantasies and desires are part of people’s lives and are taken for granted. Sex with partners is just as much a part of it as masturbation.
There is no right or wrong in sexuality, provided all parties agree and the laws are obeyed.
Often there are phases in life when you have (a lot of) sex and then again those when you have less or no sex. It is perfectly okay to live without sex.
SPECIFICALLY, SEXUAL HEALTH INCLUDES THE RIGHT
• To experience sexuality free from coercion, discrimination and violence
• Have access to knowledge, information, counseling and treatment
• To freely form sexual and romantic relationships
• To be able to live a sexuality that is pleasurable, satisfying and low-risk
• To remain physically unharmed and to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
• To privacy and self-determination
Feel like talking? Many people find it difficult to talk about their sexual health, sexual needs, desires or problems.
However, in some situations it may make sense to talk about it – for example, with your partner or with your doctor. We’d like to give you some tips on how talking about sexual health can be effective and where you can turn for support.
How can I talk to my partner about sexual health?
Sex is part of most intimate relationships. Even though it’s normal for passion to subside after a while, not everyone is always satisfied with it. That makes it all the more important to talk to partners about the topics that
are important to you. Here are a few tips to help you talk:
- Don’t shirk the conversation: sexual health is everyone’s business. That’s why it’s also important that you talk together about solutions, such as whether you want to get counseling on the topic. So don’t shy away from the conversation. After all, it’s about your well-being.
- Take time for the conversation: There are many ways to get the conversation started. Humor can also be part of it. In any case, you should take enough time – preferably so that you can talk about everything calmly.
- Speak openly about uncertainties: Sometimes you are unsure or can’t clearly state your own sexual needs. If you are open about this, your partner may even be able to support you. He or she may also have insecurities.
- Inform yourself about STIs: : The topic of STIs is not only about symptoms, ways of infection and the
right treatment, but also about completely different questions, such as: How do we want to protect ourselves from an STI? How do I inform my (sex) partner if I have been diagnosed with an STI?
- Avoid accusations and insinuations: Especially when it comes to different preferences or the suspicion of
an STI, accusations or even blame should be avoided. This is not helpful and can quickly turn the open
conversation into an argument. Everyone has their own perspectives that should be heard.
Conversations with experts
Some topics are best discussed with experts (e.g. erection problems, fear of contracting an STI, etc.).
This is where talking to your doctor comes in handy. Even if sexual health has never been an issue between the two of you, you should not be embarrassed. Doctors are responsible for all health issues, including sexual health. Your doctor will also know where to refer you if they feel you can be better supported elsewhere. Here are a few tips on how to make the conversation successful:
- Prepare for the conversation: First, think about what your specific concern is. Is it about symptoms or is it about relationship problems or something else?
- What is important for your doctor: It can be important for doctors to know who you are sexually attracted to, whether you are in a relationship or have recently had sex with different people. Also, if you feel you are in the wrong sex, your doctor can be an important resource.
- Stay honest: Especially with experts, it makes sense to answer all questions honestly and to
address topics openly. They are subject to the legal duty of confidentiality, which means that everything you say must not be disclosed to the outside world
How can I contribute to my own sexual health?
We have put together a few tips for you on how you can ensure that you stay sexually healthy.
- Think about what gives you pleasure and with
whom it gives you pleasure. Stay true to yourself and talk about it with your partners.
- With any sexual contact or practice, yes means yes and no means no – for you and for others.
- If you have sex with different partners: use condoms and get tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections!
- Sex and substance use: When you are high, it can unfortunately happen that you do things or have things done to you that you don’t really want. Make sure that you do not (completely) lose control when using.
If you have questions about sexual health, there are many resources that are available to help you:
- „I’m not sure what’s wrong with me“ -> General Practicioner
- „I have skin problems“, „My penis/my vulva itches“ „I have discharge“ -> Dermatologist
- „I have pain in my lower abdomen“ „I have questions about contraception/pregnancy“ -> Gynecologist
- „I have pain when I urinate“, „I have erection problems“ -> Urologist
- „I want to take an STI test“, „I have questions about protection/transmission routes of STIs“ -> Aidshilfen Österreichs
- „I often feel sad“, „I am afraid to have sex“ , „I am ashamed of my body“ -> Counseling centers, psychotherapists, psychologists
- „I don’t feel like having sex“, „I have erection problems“, „I have pain during sex“ -> Sexual counseling centers,