Sex is only part of who we are as sexual beings. All people are sexual, whether they actively have sex or not. Sexuality is all the things that make us sexual beings.
We express our sexuality in the way we speak, smile, stand, sit, dress, dance, laugh, and cry. Sexuality is at the heart of who we are, what we believe, what we feel, and how we respond to others.
Sexual health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality. When a person is sexually healthy, they are comfortable with their sexuality and free from disease, violence, fear, and false beliefs. They feel safe, secure, and supported.
Many factors influence sexual health. One important factor is body image. Body image is how each person sees and feels about their physical body, in their own mind. Body image can have a negative or positive effect on what decisions we make about our sexuality, and how we make them.
People may feel they are not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not tall enough, not muscular enough, not curvy enough, not feminine or masculine enough, etc. This negative, “not enough” thinking can risky decision-making and poor self-esteem. They feel inadequate and want to do something to make up for that feeling.
Other important factors related to sexual health include how we experience relationships, intimacy, and love. Positive experiences contribute to good sexual health. Negative or harmful experiences such as sexual violence can also have an impact on our sexual health, as well as have lasting effects on other parts of our lives. The inter-generational impact of residential schools is an example of this.
It is important to be sexually healthy, as our sexuality is at the heart of who we are, what we believe, what we feel, and how we respond to others.