Did you know that in Malaysia:
- A baby is dumped every three days
- 18,000 teenagers get pregnant each year
- STIs have doubled in the past decade
These are the dire consequences of undetailed sexual health education.
In a society such as ours, sexual health isn’t counted as physical health – it’s a subject that’s actually avoided. Youths are taught the very bare necessities, leaving too much room for misinformation. This has caused many to make harmful decisions, including baby dumping, having teenage pregnancies, and spreading sexually-transmitted infections.
It has become crucial for us to openly start acknowledging sexual health in order to protect our physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as others’. But how do we turn this taboo topic, which continuously sparks criticism, into a positive dialogue?
We asked Jasmine King (a sex positive advocate, speaker and sexual health educator), for her advice on breaking the stigma and normalising conversations around sex. She currently does this on her Instagram page, Jas Explains, where she promotes sexual empowerment by creating educational content, sparking important conversations and sharing sex positive resources.
What exactly is sexual health?
According to WHO, sexual health is the “positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence”. In ensuring everyone receives adequate sexual health, it is important for us to have:
- Access to comprehensive, good-quality information about sex and sexuality;
- Knowledge about the risks they may face and their vulnerability to adverse consequences of unprotected sexual activity;
- Ability to access sexual health care;
- Living in an environment that affirms and promotes sexual health.
Simply put, sexual health encompasses everything that is connected to our sexual wellbeing, whether it be reproduction, relationships, laws and reforms, or diseases and dysfunctions.
What are the common misconceptions Malaysians have about sexual health?
A common one would probably be that sexual health is only about sex and the health of our reproductive organs, but it spans beyond that. It’s about health and rights, as well as the social aspect of sex. This encompasses our reproductive health and rights, sexual relationships, knowledge and education, diseases and dysfunctions, sexual violence like harassment or abuse, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation.
Why is it so important?
It’s important because sexual health is an aspect of our health, and despite the taboo and stigma that’s attached to it, it’s still very much important for us to educate ourselves on it – despite being married or not, young or old. Usually sexual health is only prioritized when couples want to start a family or when something traumatic happens like abuse/harassment.
How can we overcome sexual shame as a society?
A first big step to overcoming sexual shame is to first of all educate ourselves. We need to unlearn years of education and beliefs, which are masked by layers of taboo, stigma and shame, and relearn everything again from the start. By relearning and normalizing the conversation, we are then able to provide a safe space to educate others and receive without judgement.
As individuals, what are the benefits of overcoming sexual shame?
It releases us from some of the shame, judgement and fear that we carry. Sex and our bodies are a normal and healthy part of our lives and should be treated with respect, instead of disgust and shame. By allowing ourselves to overcome shame, we would be able to fully embrace our sexual and sensual side instead of fearing them.
What does it mean to be sex positive?
Someone who is sex positive values consent, communication, education that allows people to make informed choices about their bodies, and pleasure. They respect and do not judge those who consensually practise diverse sexuality and gender expressions.
As sex is a religious stigma here, how can we promote a more sex positive culture?
We can do this by not focusing so much on the term ‘sex’ and changing the language to make it more accessible and neutral for everyone. Hence why, sex education is also known as ‘comprehensive sexuality education (CSE)’ and sex positivity is also referred to as ‘positive sexuality’. Changing the language as well as acknowledging that it’s more than just about sex can promote a more sex positive culture. CSE covers an array of topics which includes:
- Understanding the correct names of our bodies, especially genitals
- Safe, unsafe and unwanted touches
- Healthy and unhealthy relationships
- Gender and sexuality
- Pleasure-based education
- Puberty and menstruation
For more information on sexual health, tune into Jasmine’s podcast, I Wish Someone Told Me, to hear stories by Asians, or those living in Asia, on gender, sexuality, dating, intimacy and sexual empowerment. You can also follow @iwishthepod and @jasexplains on Instagram for more sex positive content and resources!
Whenever we introduce ourselves as a wellness website, we’re thought to cover yoga and meditation and positivity, but that’s not wellness – it’s a very narrow area, which has been so commercialized that it distracts from the true definition of wellness: “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort”. Not toxic positivity or veganism only, but a realistic balance of activities that satisfy both our minds and bodies.
Mental wellness has us paying attention to our needs and feelings, and physical wellness has us eating intuitively and exercising regularly, but what about sexual wellness? After all, it does involve both our emotional and physical wellbeing. JamuGlo, a herbal beverage brand founded by Atika Suhaimi and her husband, Mohamed, aims to shift the taboo surrounding this dimension of wellness.
What is sexual wellness?
“Sex is not just intercourse to begin with – it is related to our overall inner health. It’s the relationship we have with ourselves, how comfortable we are in our own skin, and a direct measurement of how connected we are to our partners.”
Atika has been an avid jamu-drinker her entire life and wanted to share the benefits she’s experienced from the traditional healing aid, but with a modern twist. The 100% organic, gluten-free juices boost sexual health and highlight the brand’s belief that intimacy starts from within.
“Prioritizing our sexual wellness does not mean you have to talk about sex, immediately have sex, or even be sexually active – asexuals aren’t easily driven by sexual desires. It’s all about accepting yourself, and understanding your own sexual wellbeing.”
How can we break the stigma surrounding sexual wellness?
“In Malaysia, the challenge we have been facing is to educate and create awareness regarding sexual wellness, as well as change the way people see it other than the way sex has been portrayed in the media or pornography.”
Our society fears that sex education will encourage sex, but in reality, the lack of sex education has caused a dangerously innacurate and unhealthy understanding of sex and sexuality. This barrier of shame and embarrassment that exists around sexual wellness has harmed relationships, the overall wellbeing of individuals, and their general quality of life. It prevents people from making informed choices for safe and fulfilling sexual experiences and relationships.
“We are on a mission to push and elevate women’s lifestyles by truly educating and empowering them to embrace their own sexual wellness. This gives them the chance to be enlightened, and hopefully connect better with their loved ones, and even with themselves. We’re doing this by bringing back the traditional superfoods of our ancestors, but for the modern woman – we’ve made it lighter and more drinkable!”
What is jamu?
“Jamu is a traditional medicine from Indonesia for overall health. It is predominantly a herbal drink made from natural materials, like roots, herbs, flowers, seeds.”
What are the benefits of your drinks?
- Regulates menstrual cycles
- Alleviates abnormal vaginal odour
- Aids in reducing excess white discharge
- Balances out hormones
- Increases libido
- Boosts energy
- Eases digestion
- Reduces bloating
- Nurtures glowy and dewy skin
- Alleviates water retention
When should it be consumed?
“We highly recommend consuming our juices on a daily basis, with De-tox consumed in the morning before or after breakfast (after breakfast if you suffer from gastric), and the Kencur Juice consumed in the evening.
We must stress that it is important to be consistent in your journey with us. Compared to modern medicine, the effects may take a bit longer to show, but their benefits remain substantially longer in your system.”
Who should avoid consuming it?
“Those who are menstruating, pregnant, or hold current medical conditions or illnesses. If you are on any medication, please consult your doctor before consuming our juices as the chemicals may not mix well with natural herbs.”
How should it be stored?
“As all our juices are naturally made, carefully pasteurised, and contain no artificial preservatives, we highly recommend keeping them chilled. They may be kept under normal fridge temperatures for up to 2 weeks (14 days), or stored frozen in your freezer for a period of 3 months (90 days).
A typical jamugloer would purchase between four to eight bottles at a time, leaving their first 2 bottles of Kencur juice and De-tox in the fridge, and the remainder in the freezer.”
Learn more about Jamuglo and join them on their mission to shift the taboo surrounding intimacy by following them on Instagram!
If you’re interested in purchasing their juices, check out their Valentine’s Day promo below:
Buy 4 or more bottles, between the 2nd and 9th of February, to get a free bouquet of flowers! Your package will be delivered on Valentine’s Day itself for the perfect dose of self-love and an opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones. Order now.