3 steps to a happy and healthy sex life – World AIDS Day 2020

01 December 2020

Sexual health is about so much more than infection prevention – it’s about being happy with yourself and in your sex life. Help us to spread the word that everyone has a right to pleasurable and safer sex!

Promoting safer sex goes hand-in-hand with having pleasurable sex. But too many people only see sexual health and wellbeing through the lens of preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While this is important, we know that promoting communication, trust and FUN is equally as important.

Being able to talk to a sexual partner about your desires, the type of sex you want to have, and your limits – on top of knowing your status and staying in control of your body and sexual health – are critical for good sex!

That’s why this World AIDS Day (1 December), we asked young people from across Africa to share their top tips on leading a happy and healthy sex life. We’ve summarised what they said under three key themes.

1. Know what turns you on!

Know that you have the right to great sex and let go of any shame or stigma around exploring what you want. There are lots of different ways to get turned on, or to have sex. Chat with your closest friends or check out trusted sources like Avert.org and learn.

You can also explore and play with your own body. Find out what turns you on, learn how to climax (cum, orgasm) and be in-tune with your desires. It’s really empowering to know what feels good!

Also, sex is great, but it doesn’t have to be everything. Maybe you’re not ready for sex, maybe you only want to touch and make out, maybe you’re waiting for the right moment, and that’s OK! You don’t always have to have it or have it at all. Even if you’ve had it before.

2. Stay physically healthy

It goes without saying, but staying physically healthy is important. Know about all the different ways you can protect yourself, and others, from STIs and HIV. You may want to talk to a health worker about contraceptive options to prevent pregnancy and ask any questions you have. Learn about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and know the benefits of using a condom every time you have sex. It’s also a good idea to get regular sexual health check-ups while sexually active!

And if you’re living with HIV, take your treatment as prescribed so that you can remain healthy and keep your viral load low!

3. Communicate

Whether you’re having sex casually, or having sex in a relationship, letting your partner know about what turns you on is really … sexy! Listen to any verbal or non-verbal cues your partner gives and, if you want, allow yourself to be open and intimate with someone for the best sex possible! Communication is also critical for sexual consent – so know how to ask for consent, and to give it!

It’s nice to have a group of friends that you feel able to chat with about sex and your sexual health. If you normalise talking about sex with people closest to you, it can become easier to do it with a partner.

You can also consider talking to your partner about your physical health and testing for STIs and HIV together. Remember, the burden of preventing pregnancy or STIs isn’t just on one person – you can talk to each other and find an option that works for both of you.

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Check out our World AIDS Day 2020 page for more tips and information about World AIDS Day.

Written by Caitlin Mahon

Content Specialist - HIV & Sexual Health

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