Sexual health is the physical, mental, social and emotional well-being of a person’s sexuality. When you are physically, mentally and emotionally fit, you can live a satisfying life.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Physician Assistant Heather Sommers says your sexual health is crucial to your overall health and quality of life.
Sexual health affects overall health
“If you have good overall health in terms of your sexuality, you are going to have emotionally and physically satisfying relationships,” Sommers said. “Those satisfying relationships will give you overall happiness and connection. Humans need emotional or physical connection with one another.”
Mental health also significantly improves by connecting with the ones you love, Sommers said. And, satisfying intimacy with your partner has proven to prolong life span and longevity, and may even boost your immune system to fight diseases and infections.
Optimal sexual health helps you cope with daily situational stresses and new onset of life challenges, like acquired disability or a newly diagnosed medical condition.
“Just fixing conditions with surgery or medications alone is not going to keep you happy and satisfied in terms of your sexual health,” she said.
Women’s health providers most often see patients who have lost physical and emotional intimacy with their partner because of sexual pain or other complex physical intimacy issues.
These issues can have serious effects on a person’s mental health and affect their quality of life. Anxiety and depression are a common result, and divorce and infidelity can occur in relationships, which worsen mental and physical health.
Sexual health is not sex
It’s important to note that sexual health does not indicate only sexual intercourse. Sommers said it is more about maintaining emotional and physical connection with your partner.
Women should be able to say, ‘this feels good to me’ or ‘this makes me uncomfortable’ or ‘you holding my hand feels good’ and ‘you giving me a back rub feels good,’” she said. “This intimate connection is all about communication between partners to achieve an optimal satisfying sexual health.”
Shed intimacy shame
It doesn’t matter your partner’s gender or sexual orientation, as long as you are emotionally and physically connected to the person by your side.
Sommers recommends everyone be aware of their own physical and emotional needs in terms of their sexuality.
“You don’t have to think or believe that sexuality is changed or lost because of your age, medical condition, or after menopause or childbirth,” she said.
Medical professionals can help
Your women’s health provider can help you find the care you need in a judgment-free and guilt-free environment.
Sommers strongly encourages women to speak for themselves and come forward about their sexual intimacy issues. She also encourages women to talk about what they enjoy with their partner.
Your sexual needs do not have to go on the backburner of your life,” she said. “We need to hear you. It’s OK to come to us and say, ‘I need help.’ We are here to help you achieve a satisfying sexual life, or regain your sexual life after major life changes.”
If you feel low sexual desire, loss of desire, or pain during intimacy – anything that disrupts your emotional and physical relationship with your partner – it’s time to take a deeper look.