What Is Healthy Sex?

Sexual energy is a powerful, very natural force in our lives. But like any natural force we encounter -- be it wind, sun, rain, or our own laughter -- our sexual energy has the potential to be channeled and experienced in either destructive or life-affirming ways.

Healthy sex involves the conscious, positive expression of our sexual energy in ways that enhance self-esteem, physical health, and emotional relationship. It is mutually beneficial and harms no one.

For a more detailed description of Healthy Sex see the HealthySex CERTS model.

Negative influences and problems

Unfortunately, we live in a society that constantly bombards us with images of sex that have very little to do with healthy sexuality. In movies, on TV, in books, and in magazines we are exposed to countless examples of impulsive, irresponsible sex. People are treated as sex objects and sex is often portrayed as a form of power and control over another person. It's no wonder that many of us have experienced some tragic consequences of mischanneled sexual energy, such as sexual abuse, compulsive sexual behaviors, sexual exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and/or chronic sexual unhappiness.

Studies in America reveal that:

What's been missing

Most of the sex education available in the world today focuses on reproduction, birth control and disease prevention. While this is important information, it stops short of helping us learn what we need to know to prevent sexual abuse, addiction, and dissatisfaction. In addition, many of us need new information to overcome problems caused by past sexual hurts so that we can go on to experience healthy sexual intimacy with a partner.

As a sex educator and therapist, I meet many people who have trouble conceptualizing Healthy Sex. They want to know: "How does healthy sex differ from sexual abuse?", "How does healthy sex differ from sexual addiction?", and "What are the conditions necessary to ensure that the sex I'm having is healthy?"

About the author: Wendy Maltz LCSW, DST is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and sex therapist. Her books include The Porn Trap, The Sexual Healing Journey, Private Thoughts, Passionate Hearts, Intimate Kisses, and Incest and Sexuality.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2021, December 20). What Is Healthy Sex?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: March 25, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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