We have lot of unhealthy images of women’s sexuality all around us. No wonder you’re confused about what it means to have good sexual health. Here is a good place to start if you want to understand how to nurture your sexual self.

You feel good about yourself as a woman. You may have always felt more or less feminine than what is thought to be the “norm,” but value your female identity and enjoy expressing it through your thoughts, beliefs, appearance, and sexual behavior.

You feel good about your body. You feel good not just about the appearance of your body, but how your body feels, how it brings you pleasure, and how it gives pleasure to a partner. If you have negative feelings about your body because you are overweight or out of shape, take control and do something about it. If you simply don’t like what you see in the mirror, focus on what you do like and accept the rest.

You feel respect for yourself as a sexual being. You enjoy sexual experiences, free of shame and guilt. You don’t out sexually in a way that will make you feel these negative emotions. You also don’t let others talk you into sexual activity that is unwelcome. You also respect your partner’s sexuality. You make time for sexual activity with your partner when you can.

You don’t hurt anyone. You don’t force your partner to do something sexually that would make your partner uncomfortable. You also communicate about sex if your partner doesn’t understand what you want or need, instead of pouting that they can’t read your mind. You don’t use sex to gain power over your partner, either by withholding sex or being sexual in order to manipulate your partner.

You practice safe sex. You limit your partners so that you lessen the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). You are aware that some STIs–notably human papillova virus (HPV) can travel through a condom. If you do not have a regular or trustworthy partner, you get tested to ensure that if you do have an STI you can get treatment right away.

You take steps to overcome problems having sex. If you aren’t enjoying sex, you don’t let problems drag on; you take action. Whatever is bothering you–difficulty becoming aroused, feeling pain with sex, or being overly inhibited–you make up your mind that you are going to learn how to overcome obstacles or get help from a sex therapist to figure it all out. When you let problems linger, hurt and resentment build up, adding to the problem.

You communicate about sex in an adult-to-adult fashion. You find a way to talk to your partner about what you like and what is not working for you. You calmly discuss what you need and what you would like to see changed. You seek out factual information and don’t rely on sexual myths to figure out what good sex is all about.

By practicing these seven ideas, you can experience optimal sexual health.

Everyone deserves sexual pleasure. Dr. Stephanie Buehler is nationally recognized sex therapist, relationship specialist, and licensed psychologist. She is Director of The Buehler Institute in Orange County, CA where she and her staff treat people with all kind of sexual concerns. Sign up for her Ezine and receive relationship tips, ways to have better sex, links to weird stuff, updates of workshops, and reviews of all kinds of stuff at http://www.thebuehlerinstitute.com