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Coalition Urges Americans to Take “Five Action Steps to Good Sexual Health”

Media Contacts:
Susan Gilbert/703-304-6774/Susan.Gilbert@altarum.org   
Lisa Guiterman/301-217-9353/lisa.guiterman@gmail.com


 Leading Experts Provide Practical Roadmap to Help Improve Self-Esteem,
Relationships, and Partner Communication

Washington, DC – Today, the National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH), consisting of 100+ leading health/medical organizations and experts, launched the Five Action Steps to Good Sexual Health. This comprehensive roadmap redefines what it means to be sexually healthy, and provides practical tools to help Americans improve their sexual health.

“The timing is perfect. In the era social movements such as #MeToo, people are saying enough is enough. We all deserve to be treated with respect, to be heard, to have healthy relationships, and to enjoy safe, fulfilling sex lives. The Action Steps fill an important void by giving us hands-on, real-life advice to help make this a reality,” said Dr. Logan Levkoff, a certified sex educator and nationally-recognized expert in relationships and parenting.

Redefining What It Means to be Sexually Healthy

Americans are eager to improve their sexual health but face many challenges to doing so, such as valuing themselves, treating partners well, and communicating openly about sex and sexual health with their partners, family, and health care providers.

Traditional approaches to sexual health and sex education have often been narrow in scope, negative, and aimed at disease prevention. But good sexual health involves much more than biology lessons and body mechanics. According to NCSH’s new definition, “being sexually healthy means being able to enjoy a healthier body, a satisfying sexual life, positive relationships, and peace of mind.”

“To ensure sexual health, a comprehensive approach is critical – one that normalizes sexuality, addresses key barriers, and equips people with the information they need,” said Chitra Panjabi, President & CEO, SIECUS. The Action Steps do just that. They promote the do’s – the positive steps people can take – rather than the don’ts.”

The Five Action Steps to Good Sexual Health include:

#1: Value who you are and decide what’s right for you.
“Loving everything about yourself – both on the inside and the outside – can be challenging. But you can get more comfortable in your own skin and stand up for yourself. And when we feel good about ourselves, we usually make better choices when it comes to our sexual health,” said certified sex educator, dating expert and the host of Facebook’s Make Up or Break Up, Shan Boodram. This Action Step offers advice on improving self-esteem and body image, embracing your sexual identity, and advocating for yourself.

#2: Get smart about your body and protect it.
Sex – which can be expressed in many ways – can bring you pleasure and intimacy, but it can also bring unwanted things like sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unplanned pregnancies and fear. However, you can take simple steps to protect yourself and your partner. Learn about options for sexual expression, safer sex, birth control and condoms, and dating safely if you or your partner have an STI.

#3: Treat your partners well and expect them to treat you well.
“The current national conversation around sexual harassment and assault is prompting us to reexamine how partners treat each other – whether it’s a short-term hook-up or a long-term relationship,” said Dr. Levkoff. “By the time children enter preschool, parents should already be talking about what it means to respect others, give consent, and to set boundaries. You can easily start with non-sexual situations.” 

Yet, 58% of young adults have not talked with their parents about the importance of being a “caring and respectful sexual partner,” according to a recent Harvard study. And, 20% of high school students who date experience sexual and/or physical violence, while over 50% of college students report abusive or controlling behavior by partners. This Action Step provides concrete guidance on how to give and get the respect you deserve, and talk openly about consent, boundaries, desires, and safer sex.


#4: Build positive relationships.
What's the secret to a happy and healthy life? For many of us, it’s romantic relationships. “As research shows, close relationships can also help us combat life’s stresses and strains. But building a positive one is not intuitive, particularly if you don’t have good role models,” said Dr. Levkoff. In fact, according to a recent Harvard study, young adults are struggling to form and maintain romantic relationships, and 70% want guidance on how to do so.

This Action Step highlights the key ingredients of a healthy, romantic relationship, practical tips for building and maintaining one, and the warning signs of abuse.

#5: Make sexual health part of your health care routine.
Over half of us are not getting recommended preventive health services, such as vaccines, STI screenings, and birth control, that can help prevent cancers, plan pregnancies, detect STIs, and safeguard fertility. This Action Step describes recommended services and tips for talking openly with health care providers.

The public can access the Action Steps on this mobile-friendly website: www.fiveactionsteps.org.

About the National Coalition for Sexual Health

The National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH), with over 100 members, including leading national health, medical and consumer organizations, is working together to improve sexual health and well-being across the lifespan. For more information: http://nationalcoalitionforsexualhealth.org/.

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For general media inquiries or to schedule an interview with an expert, please contact: Susan Gilbert, NCSH Communications Director, susan.gilbert@altarum.org

It’s about honesty. It’s about knowledge. It’s about time.