The innate need for love, affection, and intimacy has an enormous impact on our mental health. Sexuality broadly refers to the expression and fulfillment of sexual needs and preferences, and it is a colossally personal experience.
Relationship between Mental and Physical Health
This is evident from the fact that people with serious mental health conditions are at high risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions, and people with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health.
“Health” is primarily defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Our mental health has a direct impact on our physical health and vice-versa. More often than not the aspect of our sexual health is swept under the rug because any act of the like is suggested to be one for our sexual satisfaction.
Sexual wellness is not only concerned with arousal and satisfaction of needs but also with the freedom to express and explore one’s sexuality and to be able to discuss related aspects without being labeled or morally judged. Sexual health is majorly modified by stress levels and mental disorders, ergo; disruption in mental health directly influences other aspects of health.
Mental Health and Sexual Arousal
Mental illness of any kind may either result in increase or decrease of libido. As in the case of clinical depression, sexual arousal reduces as the feeling of hopelessness overpowers. In case of anxiety disorders, worrying excessively, not being able to relax or having intrusive thoughts may result in not being able to engage in sexual activity. Whatever the case may be, struggles are cranked up a notch due to mental illnesses, and sexual pleasure is the last thing a person would be thinking about. Drugs may cause changes in one’s sexual health by either inhibiting the arousal or causing an individual to engage in erratic behavior than s/he may not display sober (having sex with a stranger, filming during sex).
Low self-esteem issues and negative body image of self also act as deterrents in the expression of sexuality. Owing to the conventional norms of beauty set by the society, an individual begins to see himself/herself as “not good enough” or “unworthy” of attention, love, and intimacy. It is also essential to know that sometimes psychiatric medications may cause changes in mood, libido, weight gain, disruption in appetite and sleep cycle, all of which might disturb your sexual health temporarily. It is a good idea to discuss side-effects with your doctor beforehand.
It is easier to balance mental and sexual health when one carries a positive perspective towards sex. This involves learning more about sexuality and its expression and being able to discuss the same with your partner and friends. Sex positivity is important to shift the paradigm of sex from “dirty, distasteful, naughty” to something that is positive desire and a part of a healthy lifestyle.
Taking Care of Your Sexual Health
Taking care of one’s health shouldn’t be restricted to overcoming or preventing diseases of any sort. Paying close attention to one’s sexual health is an indispensable part of the same. Following are some ways to guide you through it:
1)Communication is the key to expression. Normally, sexual problems emanate from the brain which further result in stress and anxiety. It is pertinent to talk about the same with either your partner or anyone else.
2)Physical exercise stimulates the release of hormones and triggers physiological reactions that boost libido. The emotional awareness of being healthy and fit gives one a better outlook on helps one realize things about themselves.
3) Stress Relievers such as meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, laughter, and progressive muscle helps in relaxation of stress and tension.
4)Know yourself and what you want. Knowledge about yourself and your desires is the most vital part of your sexual health.
5) Consult a physician whenever needed. The requirement of medical attention should never be ignored, especially on the basis of social embarrassment and hesitation resulting from the same.
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