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Sexy September: A Black Sex Therapist's Guide to Celebrating Sexual Health Awareness Month

Updated: Sep 27, 2023




Dr. Nikki here wishing you a Happy September 4th! It’s both Beyonce's birthday AND Sexual Health Awareness Day! So many things to celebrate! Specifically, I want to share more about Sexual Health Awareness Month for Black folks. Sexual health is an important aspect of our well-being, but it's often neglected or stigmatized in our communities because it often gets reduced down to just the absence of STDs. As a Black sex therapist who specializes in helping Black women center pleasure in their lives, I consider sexual health to be inclusive of emotional health, mental health, and physical health.


Some of the topics covered in this blog post are:

  • The influence of race and culture on Black folks' sexuality

  • The importance of emotional and mental health in having a healthy sex life.

  • The importance of consent, communication, and boundaries in our relationships

  • The benefits of getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Harmful Legacies

Like all other aspects of our life and culture as Black folks, even our sexuality, sexual choices, and access to pleasure are all influenced by systemic racism and oppression. This is especially for Black women, whose bodies have been the source of trauma, victimization, and vilification through enslavement, medical experimentation, and patriarchy. The ongoing legacy of these harms more often looks like self-imposed limitations on our sexuality or internalized shame as protective tools to keep us respectable and safe. During this Sexual Health Awareness Month I want to encourage you to dismantle these negative and shameful internalized messages from your ideas about your sexuality and your body. You are more than a stereotype. Your sexuality does not have to be respectable or palatable to others’ gaze who don’t center your humanity and divine birthright to pleasure.


Your Mindset Matters

While sexual behavior is a physical act, the most important aspects of a pleasurable and healthy sex life lay in your emotional health and mental health. In order to experience ultimate sexual satisfaction and to do so consistently, you have to be aware of and learn to navigate any emotional health issues or mental health issues that influence your ability to be present and safe in your body, know your sexual desires with pride and empowerment, and explore what brings you sexual pleasure with confidence. In our current world, stress is an everyday factor. Add in the competing challenges for Black women around emotional labor in the workplace, imbalanced domestic labor responsibilities at home, and any negative internalized messages about pleasure, and it becomes quite clear that sexual health is a more complex phenomenon than just being STI free. While knowing your status is important, it is also really necessary to have an optimal emotional and mental wellbeing to facilitate your access to your own desire, arousal, and pleasure. As in all other ways, practice sexual self-care and self-love as a way of honoring your sexuality. If you find that these emotional and mental health issues are a major roadblock to you having the kind of healthy sex life you desire, seek professional help or therapy to help you work through those in an informed and supportive environment. I also offer a self-directed digital course called Living My Best Erotic Life focused on helping you achieve a pleasure mindset.


Consent is sexy!

The theme for this year’s Sexual Health Awareness Month is consent. It is so critical to your sexual pleasure and satisfaction to feel safe with your partners. Consent, communicating your desires and your boundaries are key in creating the type of intimacy and safety needed for your ultimate sexual health. The FRIES framework really encapsulates all the most important parts of consent. Consent is most comprehensive and effective when it is:

Freely given - in your right, sober, and non-coerced state of mind

Reversible - with the understanding that the vibes can change and things can stop at any given moment

Informed - with your boundaries and limitations clearly stated

Enthusiastic - with excitement and anticipation of what’s to come

Specific - for each specific act in any sexual exchange

Step into your agency and communicate your desires with your partners by knowing what consent looks like from you and require them to communicate theirs in return. Just because consent is serious, doesn’t mean it can’t be sexy! Do this in a sensual, seductive, flirty, and playful way to increase the mood.


Know your status

Last but not least, you most definitely cannot have a sexually healthy life if you don’t practice safer sex and get tested regularly. Your physical health status directly influences your sexual functioning. This also means you need to know your body. What is typical for you and your body, might not be for every other body. Unfortunately, heterosexual Black women are disproportionately represented in many STI categories including HIV, HSV (herpes), chlamydia, and gonorrhea. These results are an interplay of cultural, social, and physical factors. I don’t share them to shame us as Black women. I share them so that we can stay informed and take our physical sexual health seriously. Getting tested regularly - especially when you have new partners -, using condoms and other barrier methods, along with open and honest communication with your partners are necessary to ensure your sexual health. Should you test positive for any STI, make sure you follow through with all treatment protocols suggested by your medical professional and inform your partners of your status.


September is Sexual Health Awareness Day but the whole month is focused on sexual health. I hope you found something in this post to help you improve your sexual health as a Black woman. Don’t be a gatekeeper, share this blog with your family and friends so we can all be protected, safe, and lead pleasure-centered healthy sex lives! Black folks deserve to have a fulfilling and healthy sexual life, no matter your gender, orientation, or identity. You can also follow me on IG and TikTok to learn more about each of these topics throughout the entire month of September. If you’ve read anything here to spark deeper curiosity or concerns for yourself, contact me to book a consultation with me to discuss how we can address it in therapy.


Thanks for reading!

Dr. Nikki, your favorite Black sex therapist!


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