Simple tips to a healthy sex life

Confidence makes for safer and more enjoyable sex

SHRC Director Jenna Rose said the best way to feel empowered about your own sex life is to get educated.
SHRC Director Jenna Rose said the best way to feel empowered about your own sex life is to get educated.

The Student Body

Sex. Having it, thinking about it and talking about it is as common to student life as eating or sleeping, and yet it isn’t something that immediately comes to mind for me when I think about living a healthy lifestyle. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that sex can have a huge impact on health.

Contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or getting pregnant will directly impact one’s health, and worrying about unwanted pregnancy and wondering if a sexual partner is going to call you the morning after can have real impacts on one’s emotional health. But there is an upside. Jenna Rose, ArtSci ’07, and director of the Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC), said having sex alone or with a partner can be beneficial to one’s health by reducing stress.

Basically, sex is a great way to “blow off some steam,” she said.

“It’s a good way to reduce stress in your life,” she said. “Sex keeps you well-balanced."

Given that sex can have positive health benefits, I think it’s important to discuss some of the factors that lead to enjoying your sexuality in a healthy way.

The highlight a number of goals that it believes will improve the sexual health of Canadians, including: the avoidance of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as obtaining self-confidence.

With these goals in mind, let’s see what you can do to enjoy what sex has to offer to your well-being in a healthy and positive way.

If you plan on engaging in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex, it’s important to guard against unwanted pregnancy. I’ve witnessed first-hand that worrying about pregnancy can have a negative impact on your stress levels, and so it’s best to be as protected as possible in order to ease your mind and to maintain your emotional health. As far as choosing a particular birth control method, Rose says there are lots of factors to consider, including effectiveness, chronic disease risk, your lifestyle and your personal values. “Basically, it's an individual choice that has to fit in with lifestyle and family,” she said.

For women, Rose said it’s important to talk to a doctor about hormonal options. She added that the SHRC is a good option, regardless of gender.

“For women, going to the doctor is important, and students can always go

to student health for more information,” she said. “The sexperts at the SHRC are well trained and can provide lots of info.”

The SHRC also sells non-prescription contraceptives such as spermicides and condoms. Another important aspect of maintaining sexual health is protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Rose said trying to learn about your partner’s sexual history is “tricky” when things are getting hot and heavy, which is why she stresses becoming informed about different forms of protection and their effectiveness so that students know how to protect themselves against STIs.

“Information and education are the best tools,” she said. “It’s about empowering people to make informed decisions.”

Educating yourself on the above issues is an important part of enjoying a healthy sex life. But most importantly, I think having self-confidence and a positive body image are key to enjoying the health benefits of sex. Rose agreed.

“Self confidence is going to add to your sex life in a positive way,” she said. “Self-confidence is about having a healthy sexual relationship with your self.” I find that a big part of gaining sexual self-confidence is knowing your body, finding out what you like and dislike, and by keeping your body healthy through adequate exercise and sleep, as well as balanced nutrition.

Once you have educated yourself on how to protect your health during sexual encounters, have gained confidence in yourself and your sexual health needs, and are ready and willing to explore your sexual side, either on your own or with a partner you trust, enjoy all that sex has to offer to your overall health.

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