(ADULT) For many people who are attempting to live a satisfying life, having sex without fear and anxiety can be quite challenging. Often there are struggles related to a conservative upbringing, acceptance of identity and expression, and more often than not, fear of sexually-transmitted infections and HIV. As a result, it can become a struggle to experience the levels of pleasure that our bodies can provide us in intimate sexual contact.

Unfortunately, sexual expression is often framed as optional, utilitarian (for birth, within marriage, with only specific acts), and limited by morality. I find that incredibly unfortunate. Limiting our enjoyment of our bodies is an affront to our basic right to pleasure. We own our bodies, and yet, we confront institutions that seek to take that right away from us every day.

Pleasure is our basic human right, and we should constantly push back against any individual, group, or institution who seeks to control us by denying what we do with our own bodies to please ourselves.

Given this, I think it’s always important that we work to eliminate any barriers we may be placing on ourselves from making decisions about sexual pleasure. One of those barriers is the lack of knowledge or information we have to take care of our sexual selves.

As an advocate for providing everyone with all the unbiased, scientifically-correct, sex-positive information they need to make informed choices, I dedicate my life to sharing helpful, unbiased, accurate resources to share with others. One such resource that was recently made available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is the HIV Risk Reduction Tool. This interactive tool helps you to better understand how to reduce the possibility of acquiring HIV by examining a variety of factors called risk reduction variables.

In my work in the sexual health field, I find that there is often a lack of understanding of how to lower your risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  Too often, I hear people explain that they depend upon unreliable or biased sources, make assumptions that are often based upon rumors or misguided information, or most often, they simply don’t ask because they are afraid, ashamed, or worried about judgment.

If you are curious about reducing risk, visit the HIV Risk Reduction Tool online, or contact your local sexual health clinic for more information.

Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash