TABOO: Let’s Talk About SEX… Well, Sexual Health!

In 1991, the American Hip-Hop trio, Salt-N-Pepa, released the song, “Let’s Talk About Sex”. While it was controversial at the time, it accomplished a major goal; people started talking about sex. Not just about who they were sleeping with or positions, but about how to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancies and STD’s. In this issue, we will discuss MALE SEXUAL HEALTH! Pass this issue on to a man that you love. Let’s keep the dialogue moving…Let’s talk about SEX!

Male Sexual Health
It’s always easy for the sistahs to get together and talk about what’s on their hearts and in their minds. Those discussions range from children, to sex, and quite a few life topics. However, we find it difficult to discuss sex with the men in our lives, and they find it just as difficult to talk to us about sex also. However, for men to have good sexual health, they must be proactive in taking action, along with their physician, in taking charge of their overall health and discussing it with their partners.

What is sexual health?
The World Health Organization 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 or 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 of coercion, discrimination and violence.”

What challenges are Black men experiencing with sexual health?
There is considerable social stigma associated with erectile dysfunction. As a result, men may be reluctant to discuss symptoms with their sexual partners or health care professionals. They may even be embarrassed to pick up their ED medications at their local pharmacy. There is also a lack of awareness on the seriousness of STDs. Of note, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of STDs are higher in African Americans and African American men account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses.

What sexual challenges are Black men are more predisposed to sexally?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is prevalent among white, Black, and Hispanic male populations. In most cases, ED is caused by conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Since Black men suffer disproportionally from cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, it is important to increase awareness of ED in Black men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States.

How can men improve their sexual health?
There are many steps that one can take to improve sexual health. Tackling cardiovascular issues is an important step. Embrace physical activity and include some sort of physical activity as part of your daily routine as permitted by your health care professional. Try to lose excess pounds if you are overweight. Stop smoking. Obtain treatment for alcohol and illegal drug abuse. Seriously consider counseling to work through communication and relationship issues. Know your HIV status. Last but certainly not least, visit a health care professional regularly to discuss any concerns about sexual health. A health care professional may uncover problems that one is not even aware of.

What tests should men have regularly?
Tests which monitor cardiovascular health are critical. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels should be checked regularly. In addition, tests for diabetes should be done, if indicated. Both prostate and colon cancer screening should be done as advised by one’s health care professional. Overall, the best test to pass is for our men to visit their health care professional regularly. Encourage them to “just go to the doctor”, and be the one to start a “sex talk” with your man today.

Written by
Charlie R. Pride, FOCA

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