Human beings are sexual creatures, with a very developed sexuality.
Sexuality is the culmination of our sexual actions, behaviors, and tendencies. As we develop - typically during our teenage years - our preferences and desires come to life and begin to express themselves. A person’s sexuality may grow and change throughout his or her life, or remain fairly stable. It is not uncommon to be attracted to same-sex, opposite-sex, or both, individuals.
One main component of sexuality is sexual orientation, or who a person is attracted to.
Same-sex attraction: attraction to someone of the same sex. Gay and lesbian attraction would be classified as such, when a person has sex with someone of the same sex. However, it is not uncommon to have feelings of attraction to someone of the same-sex, as expressed by admiration or “Crush” feelings. However, these feelings may change.
Opposite-sex attraction: attraction to someone of the opposite sex. This describes a heterosexual attraction, when a person has sex with someone of the opposite sex.
Bi-sexual attraction: attraction to same- and opposite-sex individuals.
Asexuality (also known as nonsexual): an individual who has no desire for sexual activity and may not identify with a sexual orientation
While there are other forms of sexuality, these categories describe the majority of relationships. However, sexuality exists and can be described on a spectrum. It is a fluid dynamic that is often changing as we grow and develop. Because we often have no control over our attractions, relationships can be confusing, especially as a young person.
Other Terms That Apply To Sexuality Include:
Sensuality: awareness and feeling of your body and others’ bodies.
Intimacy: the ability and need to be close to another person
Gender Identity: Internal sense of being male or female
Gender Expression: External characteristics about masculinity and femininity
Anatomy: The male and female sexual reproduction organs
Another aspect of sexuality has to do with our desires, fantasies, and experiences. These can encourage strong emotional responses from us, and guide what attracts us to another person.
While we often do not have control over our sexuality and our desires, they can be suppressed in such a fashion that we do not act on these behaviors, such as attraction to friends or co-workers.
Disorders Associated With Sexuality:
As with any biological function, there are several disorders associated with sexuality. Sexual disorders may be stand-alone, or be the result of a medical condition or substance abuse.
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is a deficiency or absence of sexual fantasy, desire, and activity.
Sexual Aversion Disorder is the aversion and active avoidance of sexual contact.
Female Sexual Arousal Disorder is the persistent or reoccurant inability to attain completion of sexual activity, including adequate lubrication.
Male Erectile Disorder is the inability to attain or maintain an erection.
Female Orgasmic Disorder is a disorder in which there is a delay or absence of orgasm following normal sexual excitement.
Male Orgasmic Disorder is a disorder in which there is a delay or absence of orgasm following normal sexual excitement.
Premature Ejaculation is a disorder in which orgasm and ejaculation occur with minimal sexual stimulation, particularly before the person wishes.
Dyspareunia is genital pain associated with sexual intercourse. It may occur before, during, or after sexual intercourse.
Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction of the perineal muscles in response to penetration.
Talking to Children About Sexuality:
One of the more difficult aspects of sexuality is the conversation between parents and children. Children often have a lot of questions as they develop, and knowing where to start the conversation is often a difficult question for parents.
Research has shown that parents and children who have strong communication and boundaries around sexuality delay the age of initiating sexual intercourse. The research also showed that those children had higher self-esteem, fewer problems in school and with drugs, and engaged in fewer sexually risky behaviors.
For example, a study conducted showed that parents who had a conversation with their teens about sexually transmitted diseases and condom use, resulted in the teens using condoms two times as often than teens who were not spoken to.
However, parents need support as well.
Parents are often the primary source of information regarding sexual behavior, sexuality, and reproductive health. Despite being the primary source of information, Advocates for Youth reported that only 38% of young women and 25% of young men indicated that they had received adequate information from their parents that helped them talk about sexual issues with their partners.
Additional Sexuality Resources:
Interagency Gender Working Group website contains articles and news relative to gender issues.
UK Lesbian and Gay Foundation is a non-profit organization in the UK that advocates for a fair and equal society where all lesbian, gay and bisexual people can achieve their full potential.