Understanding the 6 Principles of Sexual Health


Understanding the 6 Principles of Sexual Health

February 20, 2024
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Taking care of one’s sexual health is a vital part of living a healthy life. In fact, sexual health is now considered one of the four pillars of health, along with physical, mental, and spiritual health. But understanding how to foster a healthy sex life may be a new concept to many people, even if they are health conscious in other areas of their lives.

Well-known sexual health author, trainer, and psychotherapist Doug Braun-Harvey developed the six sexual health principles detailed below to help folks have positive, responsible, and enjoyable sexual interactions. While each principle builds upon the others, they are all equally significant. It’s like setting the ground rules for someone's sex life!   


Consent represents the fundamental principle that individuals have the autonomy to make informed and voluntary decisions about their bodies and sexual experiences. Without consent, sexual interactions risk causing harm, violating boundaries, and perpetuating trauma. Conversely, when consent is prioritized, it fosters communication, trust, and respect between partners, leading to mutually enjoyable and fulfilling encounters.


When someone could be putting themselves in danger by saying “no” to a sexual encounter, it is exploitative. This exploitation occurs when individuals are unable to freely express their boundaries and autonomy. This includes circumstances when someone isn’t able to give consent, such as intoxication or when something is offered in return for sex. Healthy sexual interactions are non-exploitative.  


Honesty serves to foster trust, communication, and mutual respect between partners. When individuals are honest about their desires, boundaries, and sexual health status, they create a foundation for open dialogue and informed decision-making. By prioritizing honesty in sexual interactions, individuals can establish healthy relationships built on trust and understanding, promoting overall well-being and satisfaction for everyone involved.

Shared Values 

Shared values are foundational to maintaining good sexual health as they shape an individual's motivations and expectations regarding sexual interactions. When partners align on their sexual values (which can include things such as consent, communication, and respect), they create a framework for healthy and fulfilling sexual relationships. Moreover, when individuals share similar beliefs about sexual health, contraception, and STI prevention, they can engage in safer practices and make informed decisions together. 

STI and Pregnancy Prevention

Having a plan for STI and pregnancy prevention is another essential component of sexual health. By establishing strategies such as using barrier methods like condoms, hormonal birth control, practicing regular STI testing, taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and making discussions about contraception alongside partners, individuals can take proactive steps to protect themselves and their partners.


There are an infinite number of possibilities for what someone could find pleasurable! What’s important is letting go of the societal expectations about what people are supposed to find pleasure in and accepting erotic desires for what they are. Remember that it will be a lifelong curiosity to find sources of pleasure! 

Check out this video to hear from Power to Decide CEO Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley on why it’s important to prioritize pleasure.