"I tell you, the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people"
— Vincent Van Gogh
Continuing on our love theme today, I am pleased to introduce Wendy Strgar, founder of a popular company and website called Good Clean Love. I met her at BlogWorld last summer, and was fascinated to hear about her work with married couples, helping them "keep things spicy." But how many of us ever discuss the realities of our sex/love lives with anyone knowledgeable on the subject? ...
A Guest Post by Wendy Strgar
I am in the business of love. For the last seven years, I have been building the business and the idea of Good Clean Love. In manufacturing and selling our own formulations of organic personal lubricants and all-natural aphrodisiac love products, I found my real passion. I am a teacher, and what I most passionately and convincingly communicate about has become our tag line: Making Love Sustainable. Over the years, the thousands of people who have sought me out, written to me and continuously opened their hearts and relationships to me have dubbed me a "loveologist." It is a both an honor and responsibility to which I feel lucky to dedicate myself.
The original impetus for Good Clean Love came from a search for healthy and clean products that didn't make me sick after intimacy. I knew that my marriage was stronger and more cohesive when our intimate life was thriving, which was the driving motivation for my business. I didn't know when I began selling love products all over the country that it was feeding my real pursuit of making sense of love in my own life and I am proud to say that the work has inspired me to write my first book: Love That Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy.
The truth is that we all live in a laboratory of love — if we are awake. Every day, there are opportunities to learn to love the people who inhabit your world. Some days it comes out looking just like you planned. Some days, the relationship is so far off that it is barely recognizable. Most days, we all live somewhere in between, striving to see the best in others and to act from the best in ourselves. Applying this work to our sexual health is critical, especially for people with chronic health issues like diabetes — because the return on your investment is so substantial in terms of improved overall well being!
The health benefits of developing a life that includes sexual wellness extend far beyond the physical act of lovemaking. Hundreds of major medical studies have shown that an active sex life leads to a longer life, better heart health, a healthier immune response, reduction in chronic pain symptoms, lower rates of depression and even protection against some cancers.
Lovemaking is also an excellent form of aerobic exercise, which tones the heart, can burn as much as 200 calories, and is equivalent to running for 30 minutes. Men who have regular sex (only twice per week) have half as many heart attacks as men who only have sex once per month. In fact, a regular garden-variety sex life has been shown to extend life by as much as ten years.
More frequent lovemaking also boosts levels of immunoglobulin, key immune cells that fight infection. These physical effects are matched by the powerful emotional healing of lovemaking. A strong sex life will calm anxiety, ease fears and break down inhibitions. Sexually active people are also significantly less vulnerable to depression and suicide. In addition, sexual activity dulls the chronic pain of migraines, arthritis and back pain.
Yet even with the extensive medical support for physical intimacy, sexual health remains one of the most misunderstood and least discussed aspects of our overall health. It's a topic that many feel hesitant to discuss even with our doctors, thus our sexuality remains a mystery to many of us throughout our life. In a recent survey, respondents listed friends as their primary source of information about sexual questions and concerns, yet often our friends are as mystified as we are about the many issues that occur as our sexuality develops and matures.
Anna Freud once said, "Sex is something you do; sexuality is something you are." This astute summation of the hours of conversation regarding sexuality that she must have shared at her dinner table is an important foundation for understanding sexual wellness. Our sexuality is not a sum of behaviors; rather it is a deep and important part of what it means to be human. Integrating your unique sexual identity into a complete picture of your health allows you to make choices about sexual acts that reflect who you are and who you want to become.
Sexual wellness enhances your self-esteem and self-respect. There is probably no more vulnerable experience that we share with another than the acts of physical intimacy. Healthy sex lets you get out of bed feeling loved, accepted and valued. Although the acts we perform in our sex lives may leave us mystified, if they leave you feeling cheap or dirty, then something is amiss.
Sexual wellness happens in the context of giving and receiving pleasure. Opening our lives to the experience of pleasure and developing our capacity for orgasm are the building blocks of creating a satisfying sexual life. Enjoying and cultivating physical intimacy with your partner is like pouring cement into the foundation of trust and communication that builds and sustains healthy relationships.
Sexual wellness is built on the willing participation of both partners. Sexual desire is the result of a complex range of internal experiences that includes everything from hormonal stimulation to prehistoric forms of communication. Our ability to respond to our sexuality is influenced by cultural factors and the values we grew up with. The issues of initiation and matching sexual appetites are a challenge for many couples. Creating a sex life that nourishes the relationship and both partners' needs must take into account and respect the different needs that each partner brings, and forge a working compromise that inspires both people to want to find each other.
Sexual wellness takes overall health concerns into consideration. Dealing with health concerns of your partner and finding ways to build intimate connection in spite of illness is one of the most deeply bonding activities and healing activities you can bring to your relationship. Sexual dysfunction conditions like low libido, painful intercourse, and erectile dysfunction all have workable solutions — but you have to be willing to have open and honest communications and to maintain an open curiosity about exploring your own sexuality.
In short, coming to terms with our sexual selves is one of the healthiest endeavors we can undertake, with lifelong benefits for both ourselves and our relationships.
Whew — thank you, Wendy, for letting the sun shine on a topic we often keep under wraps.