Health and wellness are terms that are often used interchangeably, however, they are different. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity
Wellness on the other hand, although variously defined, is according to the American National Wellness Institute, “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence”. This definition is based on 3 tenets:
- Wellness is considered a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving full potential.
- Wellness is multidimensional and holistic; encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment.
- Wellness is positive and affirming.
The distinction between health and wellness made above is very necessary to set the tone for this conversation we’re about to have. Sexual health is as important as sexual wellness. We talk about the need for being healthy, sexually however, we often leave out sexual wellness. I am drawn to have this conversation with you because for your ‘new year, new me’ plans, your sexual wellness should be prioritized. The goal is to help you see the need to adopt a more wellness-inclined measure in your sexuality this new year & beyond.
When sexual health is discussed, the focus usually revolves around matters like staying STI/D free, avoiding unplanned pregnancy, the use of contraceptives, etc. These are important, but being sexually well involves so much more.
Know Your Vulva
Do you know your urethra from your clitoris? The external female genitalia is almost always wrongly referred to as the vagina. In reality, however, the vagina is only a part of the external female genitalia. So, you ask, what is it called? – a vulva, my love. The external female genitalia is called a vulva. It’s home to the mon pubis, clitoris, inner & outer labia, urethra, vestibule, vagina,etc. The image below is that of a well-labeled vulva.
Now that you know the parts of your vulva theoretically, I’ll implore you to take it up a notch, get practical with yours. Take a vulva self-exam. There’s a lot of falsified information on the web and in real life about vulvas which leaves people questioning their truth. Misconceptions about what the ideal “pussy” looks like (thanks for that porn), vaginal discharge equals bad hygiene, vaginal size, colour, etc. The truth is, vulvas are unique, fabulous, and should be celebrated and honoured. Taking the time to explore yours not only helps you know when something is wrong, but it also helps boost self and sexual confidence and eradicates self body-shame.
Maintain A Healthy, Balanced Diet
The phrase “You are what you eat” is used so often it has become cliche. This however doesn’t alter the fact that it is true. A healthy diet with balance provides you with the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep the body and mind strong and healthy.
Dr. Vijay Singhal, explains in detail here, the nutrients and vitamins available in food, fruits, vegetables and how they help maintain a healthy sex life. The purpose of this is not just to get your sex drive off the roof instantaneously, it is to help you adopt daily practices that boost your overall and sexual wellness. Eating well can also help ward off numerous diseases and health complications.
Explore Your Sexuality/Try Out New Things
Whether partnered up or single, gaining knowledge on what experiences or characteristics you do or don’t want in your sexual life helps you generate better sexual experiences. To learn more about your sexuality, engage in activities such as journaling, listening to sex playlists, podcasts, watching ethical porn from time to time, exploring sex toys, try out Tantra yoga, dance, etc. These you can do alone and/or with your partner(s).
Let Go Of What Doesn’t Serve You
Many times, we find that we are stuck in our ways, not necessarily because they are the best, but because we are used to doing things a certain way. This is a call to you, let go. Let go of ideologies, life practices, relationships, etc. that are no longer of use in your life.
Go on a self-reflection journey and make these discoveries. As you bid farewell to these practices, also allow yourself grace. Don’t get stuck up in self-judgment. Forgive, yourself and others. These practices bring peace, help you feel lighter and anew. Welcome new ways, be graceful, grateful, and mindful.
In a nutshell, the maintenance and improvement of (sexual) health, accordingly, depends not only on external or environmental factors (including the systems of care) but also on the efforts and intelligent lifestyle choices of the person. In fact, it depends on wellness. Go forth and be well!
The views expressed in this article intend to inform and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Red Edit Magazine. They are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.