There was a time in my life when I thought sexual health started and ended with a condom. Thankfully, with over two decades of good (and bad) sex under my belt, I have learned that sexual health encompasses a whole lot more than a slippery piece of rubber! It speaks to the very core of who we are: our sense of self-worth, our confidence, our ability to make choices that pertain to our well-being, and last but not least, our pleasure!
Conceived by the World Association for Sexual Health, September 4 is World Sexual Health Day. Not to be confused with National Orgasm Day (marking that in calendar now), this day is about having conversations that promote the importance of sexual health in order to maintain a happy and fulfilling lifestyle. (Of course, if you want to pepper those convos with some electrifying orgasms, you most definitely should.)
Talking about sex—our wants, our needs, and the best practices for optimum health—isn’t always easy (even when we’re speaking with the person we have sex with regularly). To help get the conversations started, we contacted four authorities on sex, for whom we have tremendous respect, and asked them a few questions.
For this instalment, we caught up with Katrina Marie, a Bodysex workshop facilitator who is widely respected for her outspoken thoughts on body positivity and the power of a woman’s sexual energy.
SDTC: What does sexual health mean to you?
KT: For me, sexual health is not so much an absence of disease or dysfunction as it is a having-ness. Having access to a comfortable, supportive environment to talk about our sex lives and the issues we are dealing with. When we have that kind of environment, we can thrive in the face of challenge.
So much of sexual disease or dysfunction is made infinitely more challenging for the people dealing with it because of the taboos and stigma attached to it.
In both my personal experience, and in my coaching practice, I see shame as the single most damaging factor to sexual health. Yes, yes—know how your body works and practice safe sex, but I think mindset is the real area of opportunity when it comes to sexual health. Sexual mental health? If that isn’t a thing yet, I am making it one. In the era of #MeToo, I believe we need to understand trauma and how to process it before we can really have healthy sex lives.
How do you think we (as individuals) become more mindful of our own personal sexual health?
Well, this is a perfect segue. Our sex education system (at least the hilariously inadequate one that I grew up in) used fear to teach me how to be safe. When we are in that state, we can’t access our intuition, and I think that is really too bad. Our sexuality has a primal/instinctual aspect to it that is wise beyond our thinking minds. So often we are caught up in our head, analyzing risks, trying to use our brain to figure out the next best move and we completely override these intuitive nudges our bodies give to us. Basically, if you can get into your body, you will be more present and able to better listen to your heart. I think awareness is what we are actually after here. We need less “mind” when it comes to our sex lives, and more presence.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to gain confidence in our sexuality?
Focus your mindset and masturbate! I used to think I was asexual because I couldn’t access desire. Most of us have been handed down some pretty damaging programming in the realm of sexual confidence, and the way to shift that is to create new programming. Thank god for neuroplasticity. I will give you three of my most game-changing affirmations for getting out of your head and back into the pleasure of the present moment. Write them out three times a day, make them your phone background, whatever you need to do, but figure out a way to really integrate these beliefs into your being, and expect shifts to happen.
- I trust myself.
- I am safe to relax. Relaxed me is the best me.
- I let go of expectations, and open my eyes to the pleasure all around me.
And masturbate! Masturbation is a terribly inadequate word for the magic that can happen. Make it sacred. Treat yourself like a lover. You are worthy of your own time and attention. Let go of orgasm goals and the way you usually do things. Seduce yourself. Create a dream scene, play music to get you in a groove (I love any album by Liquid Bloom), use a beautiful oil (sweet almond is my fave), slowwww down, and pay attention to what feels good. Enjoy the ride!
LOTS to think about. As a takeaway assignment, may we suggest you start a conversation about sexual health (be it with your lover, a friend, or your favourite social media platform), and then carve out some time to make love to yourself. Best homework ever? We think so.
Follow Katrina on Instagram.