It’s sexual health awareness month and as a sex expert, it’s my responsibility to help women, particularly Black women, realize the importance of prioritizing their sexual health. This can be a difficult feat because we as Black women have been conditioned to put the needs of others before our own, including in the bedroom. For generations, we were denied access to our bodies and the pleasure associated with them, so naturally, prioritizing our pleasure seems foreign. We have become so accustomed to neglecting our sexual health that we don’t even recognize the negative impact it has on us and the people around us.
Having good sexual health means having the ability to be intimate with a partner, to communicate explicitly about sexual needs and desires, and to set appropriate sexual boundaries. Sexual health goes far beyond avoiding diseases and unplanned pregnancy. It’s also about experiencing pleasure and intimacy.
Sexual function is a good indicator of one’s overall health. Meaning, an unsatisfying sex life can be an indicator of an unhealthy person. Regular healthy sex can boost immune function, reducing the risk for catching cold and flu; it reduces stress, pain, improves mood, regulates weight and sleep, as well as provides aerobic benefits. According to research from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, women who have sex at least four times per week were reported to look as much as 10 years younger than their actual age. I mean, we already knew that Black doesn’t crack but add regular sex to the mix and you’ve basically discovered the fountain of youth.
My love for Black women runs deep. I want us to have satisfying, fulfilling and healthy sex lives. Therefore, we need to change our sexual script. How do we change the script and design our pleasure? By recognizing our sexual pleasure is our responsibility. Yes, I said it. Your sexual pleasure is your responsibility — not your partner’s. The myth that your partner should know every pleasurable zone on your body without any direction or input from you is absurd. I know we as women weren’t taught to talk about what we like in the bedroom but if you want to optimize your sexual pleasure, you’re going to have to open your mouth. Research shows people who talk about sex have better sex. So you must communicate (either verbally or nonverbally) to your partner what you need.
But how do you communicate what you need if you don’t know what you need? You don’t know what you don’t know, right? It’s challenging to be confident about sex when you’re not sure what you even like about it. This is why knowing your body is an essential aspect of prioritizing your pleasure. Reports show that women who know their bodies have more sexual satisfaction than those who don’t. When’s the last time you touched yourself and focused on how it felt? Do you know what places on your body are your hot spots? Masturbation is the single best way to learn about your sexual pleasure. Set time aside weekly to learn what turns you on. The fantastic thing about exploring is once you have an arsenal of things that you enjoy, it makes you more confident about sex. Sexual confidence is knowing that you and you alone hold the keys to your sexual pleasure, and the only way to get there is by exploring.
This Sexual Health Awareness Month, I charge Black women to take control of their sexual health. Pleasure is our birthright! There’s nothing wrong with being a sexual being. You are allowed to have complete agency over your body and sexuality. It’s ok to be a confident, sexy woman. You have permission to express your sexuality in any way you see fit as long as it’s consensual. We have to prioritize our pleasure and put our needs first. Sexual health is for everyone, including Black bodies.