Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guest Post: Self Worth and Sexuality

Matt Phillips is a young professional who has found his voice in advocating for women's health issues. Below is an article he wrote for you, my readers, about how we must learn to value ourselves in the context of a healthy lifestyle and how it relates to our sexuality, birth control choices and self-esteem.

One thing Matt doesn't touch on that's essential for WLS patients to remember is the importance of TWO forms of birth control after surgery. It can be dangerous for our health as women to become pregnant within the first 18 months after weight loss surgery and with rapid weight loss we become highly fertile. So we must take the appropriate precautions to protect our delicate health.

Respecting Yourself Means Respecting Your Sexuality
by Matt Phillips

Starting on the road to total health involving the body and mind requires you to look deep into your life and correct the aspects that hold you back.  Unfortunately, a poor self image and lack of self-esteem can wreak havoc, leaving you emotionally battered and willing to compromise yourselves physically. This physical compromise, which can devastate your self-esteem, manifests itself clearly in the form of sexuality you share with others and exhibit in your own life.

An important aspect of your wellbeing resides in a healthy sexual outlook on the world and yourself. That means valuing yourself as an individual and recognizing your needs and desires as a human being. However, in the attempt to please your partner, you can sometimes fall into the trap of compromising yourself. This compromise is often accompanied by a greater loss of self respect and a digression into other poor lifestyle choices that can pollute your mind and body.

Whether this self compromise is a result of low self-esteem, guilt or an overwhelming desire to please others, it is not healthy. One serious way this compromise can manifest itself is through unsafe sexual practices, such as having multiple partners, not using adequate protection or using unsafe contraceptive methods. Sex without properly valuing yourself becomes a way to maintain a relationship or win cheap affection from your partner. Instead, sex needs to be seen as a mutual activity meant to increase a bond, not maintain or create one.

For obvious reasons, having multiple sex partners is a poor life decision. Besides the emotional toll and lack of fulfillment, having multiple partners leaves you at risk for acquiring any number of sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, engaging in this risky practice puts others at risk as the spread of these diseases is accelerated. Even early intimacy, before you have fully gotten to know your partner, is a compromising act because it is used as a way to win affection.

Not using responsible contraception, or failing to use any at all, also indicates a lack of self-esteem and the presence of those feelings of worthlessness you must fight to overcome. By apparently making sex more enjoyable or “spontaneous” for your partner, you actually make it more dangerous and demeaning for yourself. Sex at this level is a base, physical act, carrying with it physical consequences.

Even some contraceptive options, meant to make sex safer and less risky, carry with them serious results. Oral contraception, while effective in preventing pregnancy, in no way stops the spread of disease. However, some young, inexperienced women might be misled into thinking they are protected and free to engage in risky sexual acts. Obviously, this is a dangerous misconception that can have tragic results.

Even if women are using oral contraceptives correctly, the type they choose might carry serious health consequences that weren’t properly studied or made known. The sheer number of Yaz lawsuits, where users have experienced side effects as serious as heart attack, stroke, blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, and gallbladder disease, highlights the danger in hastily choosing an oral contraceptive because of its popularity or marketing. Choosing the right form of contraception involves taking the time to choose the safest product on the market.

The final indication of self esteem and positive feelings of self worth is the ability to resist pressure from others. Only when you have mastered control over yourself, your relationships and, finally, your insecurities, can you say you have fully embraced yourself as worthy. Very often, abstinence is the right choice in the early stages of a relationship or when you do not feel comfortable. Respecting yourself means putting your needs over the desires of someone else.

Developing a healthy lifestyle involves adapting all aspects of your life, including your sexuality. When you have developed a positive sense of self, you no longer feel pressure to conform to traditional relationship roles, to stereotypes or to those around you. True self-worth involves knowing yourself and refusing to compromise. You place a higher value on your body when you find this self worth and stop polluting or compromising it with risky sexual habits or oral contraceptives.

It’s important to note that none of us are born with high self-esteem. We must spend our lives earning it. Indeed, for those who have compromised themselves in the past, winning back that self-esteem is a process. However, developing a healthy self-image, especially in regards to sexuality, is especially important because of all we have to lose when we don’t properly value it.

1 comment:

  1. I wish this spoke more about the esteem part and less of the risk.


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