Confidence and self-esteem have a huge impact on sexual wellbeing and pleasure.
But many people just don't feel able to talk confidently about sexual pleasure and what they do and do not enjoy, even with regular partners. You might be very physically intimate with a partner but not have the same level of intimacy in your verbal communication.
There can sometimes be strong cultural and social messages that sex is not something people should enjoy. This can lead to prejudice around people’s sexuality and can prevent some people from making safe choices about their sexual wellbeing by creating an impression that it is not something they have a say in or should talk about.
We want to encourage confident communication about sexual wellbeing and pleasure – and we think a great place to start is through high-quality sex and relationships education (SRE) at school.
Good SRE should equip young people to enjoy sex and relationships based on qualities such as mutual respect, trust, negotiation and enjoyment. Limiting discussions to preventing infections and pregnancies gives young people a skewed and unrealistic view of sexual wellbeing as something which is separate from sexual pleasure.
How we can help you
If pleasure and wellbeing wasn't part of your education and you'd like to feel more confident talking about sex, we can help.
Our new website FPA Pleasure has articles and blog posts about sex and relationships, which give information and advice about sexual enjoyment and wellbeing in a straightforward, evidence-based and positive way.
Our help and advice pages on this site cover all sorts of topics, including choosing the best method of contraception for you (don't underestimate the difference the right contraception can make to your sexual wellbeing!), how to get help if you're having sexual problems, and how to talk to your children about sex and relationships.
What you can do
Email your MP. If you agree that sex and relationships education (SRE) should be a statutory subject for children and young people of all ages at primary and secondary schools then email your MP about it.
Share your experience. Let us know about your experiences of SRE and whether pleasure was ever talked about. Join in our Sexual Health Week conversations on Twitter @FPACharity, on Facebook @FPACharity and use the hashtag #SexualHealthWeek2015.
Make a donation We rely on donations to help us keep talking sense about sex. Donate here >>
Support for professionals
Teachers and health professionals have a vital role to play.
As well as delivering sex-positive SRE, there are opportunities to discuss issues around pleasure with people who seek sexual health advice, such as infection testing or contraceptive advice. However, it can be hard to act on these opportunities, for example because of concerns about discussing sexual pleasure or due to a lack of knowledge about how to respond to people who say they are not enjoying their sexual activity.
We run training courses for professionals to help you support young people including The Pleasure Principle and Fantasy vs Reality: The Impact and Influence of Pornography.
We can also train you to deliver the award-winning Speakeasy programme, which helps parents and carers to talk to young people about sex and relationships in a positive way.
As part of our SRE campaign work, we are a core member of the Sex Education Forum, which has a range of resources and lesson ideas for teachers and youth workers. The forum also lobbies for compulsory sex and relationships education, including that it is sex-positive and has a holistic approach.
The PSHE Association advocates compulsory personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education for young people in the UK, and also has a range of useful resources.
And don't forget to download our briefing for professionals: