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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kennesaw chapter.

We’re in a brand new year! While we’re still continuing to adjust to some things (the third year of the pandemic), this year is another chance to learn and better all aspects of our health, including our sexual health. While there may be some stigma surrounding it, it’s so important to determine what best works for you sexually.

The World Health Organization (more commonly known as WHO) defines sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction of infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free or coercion, discrimination, and violence.” I love this definition because it directly states that sexual health isn’t just about intercourse. So much more encompasses what defines everyone’s sexual health – your sexual orientation, your boundaries, how you choose to express your desires – no one’s experiences are the same.

In this new year, now’s the time to shape and define what your sexual health is. If you’re brand new to starting this journey or you’ve been well on your way, here are some tips I found that can help everyone:

Confidence is key.

In a world where things are thrown in our faces constantly, it can be so hard to gain self-confidence. As someone who suffered from severe low self-esteem, I’ve learned over the years that low (or no) confidence in yourself does harm not only to yourself, but to those in your life that care about you.

The same concept applies to your sexual health. Sexual confidence is a wonderful thing. In an article from the May 2004 edition of her magazine, Oprah writes, “The key to unlocking your sexual confidence is to check your self-perception. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder- and you have to see yourself as beautiful before you can expect anyone else to.” Confidence draws people in, and is considered a turn-on to several people.

Learning to love yourself can be a difficult task, but you have to realize that there is no one else like you. You are so creative, unique, and special. Only you can define who you are.

One thing that I discovered multiple times in my research was also getting to know yourself on an intimate level. When it comes to sexual health, this can mean looking at yourself in the mirror, fully nude, and appreciating what you have. All bodies are beautiful, no matter how many scars or blemishes there may be. One way I have increased my sexual confidence is by taking pictures of myself in provocative clothing and/or stances. It’s just something about taking these photos that makes me feel so powerful. Knowing I look good and that I can have this all to myself and for no one else satisfies me. Learning to be confident and comfortable with your body can lead to better experiences not just in the bedroom, but in your personal life.

ask yourself, “What sexually pleases me?”

This is one of the fun parts of determining your sexual health! Determining what pleases you is so satisfying and also allows you to set up your boundaries.

On the side of physical pleasure, it’s important to discover your physical tastes on your own first (especially if you have a partner). In article from The Every Mom, they suggest doing a self-body scan. By doing a body scan, you can discover parts of your body enjoy the sense of touch and others that may not. The article even suggests using different techniques or methods (hands vs. vibrators).

If you have a partner, it can be easier to explain what you want in the moment after exploring for yourself how your body reacts to touch. Physical pleasure also doesn’t have to mean masturbation or using toys. Physical pleasure can also mean how your body responds to soft actions, like kisses (not making out) or hugs. If your partner hugs you from behind, how does that make you feel? If you feel a sense of comfort, safety, and intimacy it can lead to something even more satisfying.

If you’re single (like me), there are several ways to explore sexual pleasure without a partner. One way I find sexual pleasure is through audio erotica. There are several websites (free and subscription) that can provide all sorts of fantasies for your needs. One of my favorite audio erotica websites is tryquinn.com. Quinn has something for everyone. It is LGBTQ+ friendly and has a range of stories to fit everyone’s desires (from softer stories to those who want to experience something wilder and kinkier). While you do have to sign up for a subscription, the rates are really cheap, and it will be worth it.

Sexual pleasure however, is more than just the physical aspect. Sexual pleasure includes the emotional aspect. Who are you attracted to? Who are most comfortable with? Sexual pleasure may also mean finding out what your orientation is. Discovering this can be hard for some and easy for others. The best things you can do for yourself is not compare yourself to others. Everyone will hit a point where finding sexual pleasure is the hardest thing to accomplish, but you need to be patient with yourself and others. This leads perfectly into my next point.

Communicate (with a partner or yourself).

Communication isn’t only important in classes, the workplace, or with non-sexual relationships. It even applies to sexual situations.

I know what you’re thinking if you’re single, “How do I communicate if I don’t have a partner?” Easy! Communicate with yourself. Nobody else knows your body as well as you do, so you know when to continue and stop when you explore things on your own. For example, if you know you can’t handle certain toys in certain areas, don’t pressure yourself to try it out. Instead, find an alternative. Maybe that same toy works better in a different area or can be used in an unexpected way. Another way to sexually communicate with yourself is being verbal. Remember the body scan we discussed earlier? If you touch something and it feels right, don’t be afraid to express yourself in the moment. Not only are you figuring out what pleases you, you are discovering what it means to be sexually expressive. If this applies to you, you can take what you’ve learned when you’re ready to explore a romantic relationship.

If you have a partner, you already know that communication is vital in making your relationship last. If you are sexually active, sexual communication is very important into making experiences that the both of you will remember. For example, if you want to initiate certain kinks with your partner, communicate and tell them what you want instead of surprising them when the actions already begun. If you don’t communicate, you pose the risk of making your partner uncomfortable or hurting them if you aren’t careful. In an article from ABC Everyday, they state to “be direct, check in often, and use body language.” Never let someone continue doing something that you find uncomfortable.

Sexual health can be an interesting journey, to say the least. You have to try and experience many things just to find the one thing that pleases you most. But don’t give up! And please don’t forget you are not alone in your sexual health journey. If you are comfortable, talk with friends, family, or a professional if any problems or questions come up. You are beautiful and deserve all your sexual desires!

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Hi friends! My name is Kenadee Knight and I am a 21-year-old senior English major, Dance minor at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia! I am originally from Decatur, GA. When I'm not doing schoolwork or writing for HerCampus, I enjoy dancing, listening to music, writing, and bullet journaling. I hope you enjoy reading my articles here at HerCampus!