The Pleasure Principle

14–20 September 2015

Good sex can be many things – passionate, intimate, fun, pleasurable.

Sexual health information often focuses on how we can protect ourselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections – and while this is really important, it's also important to talk about why we have sex.

Most sex isn't for reproduction but reasons of pleasure, intimacy and desire – and a happy, healthy sex life can play a key role in our overall health and wellbeing. Yet for many people, and even some health professionals, sexual pleasure remains a source of embarrassment or shame.

This Sexual Health Week was all about putting the pleasure back into sex!

What we talked about

We focused on five different themes about sexual pleasure and wellbeing:

Education >>

Sexual wellbeing as you get older >>

People with learning disabilities >>

Separating fantasy from reality >>

Communication skills >>

Resources for professionals

Our briefing supports clinicians and pharmacists to think about ways you can incorporate sexual pleasure and wellbeing into everyday conversations with patients and customers.

Sexual Health Week briefing (PDF)

Sexual Health Week banner (PDF)

Sexual Health Week poster (PDF)

Our policy on sexual pleasure and wellbeing (PDF)

Talking about pleasure with patients and clients

Discussing sexual pleasure and wellbeing with patients can be easier said than done.

Some patients may be reluctant to discuss their sex lives unless they have a problem they consider serious enough to ask for help, but there are many opportunities before this point when you can raise the subject of pleasure. This could be while giving advice about other conditions or medications that may be affecting them, or during routine check-ups, such as a post-natal appointment.

To get you started, here are some ideas for conversation starts that you can use to break the ice.

“Some patients find that the side effects of [X medication] have an impact on their sex life. If that is something you have noticed then I’d be pleased to talk to you about it…”

“We have different types of condoms available in order to help everyone who uses them enjoy the sex they are having…”

“You’ll notice that this condom comes with its own lubricant and you should not need any extra to enjoy sex unless you are having anal sex…”

“This leaflet gives some information about sexual health but I’d be happy to discuss different aspects of sexual pleasure with you if that would help…”

“As it’s Sexual Health Week, we are highlighting the fact that there are different treatments for men who find that their sexual pleasure is not the same as it used to be when they were younger…”