Sex in the Ballroom

Wellness Services hosts Sex in the Ballroom to bring awareness to safe sex, sexual health, consent and social justices in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom Oct. 2.

Sex.

It’s something Midwestern parents told their children that “mommies and daddies do when they’re in love.”

Little did they know that “daddies” would take on a whole new meaning in the context of sex.

Sex often carries a sense of taboo or dirtiness in conversation. It’s a topic reserved for only select groups in people's lives. However, sex plays an important role in a healthy life.

Many people can spout out the physical benefits of sex: lower blood pressure, higher immune system and a better sleep cycle, but sex can also impact a person’s mental health in a positive way. 

Sophomore Kevin Nguyen is the diversity and inclusion representative on Student Senate and said exploring sexual diversity is important for students.

“Unfortunately, sex education is a taboo subject,” Nguyen said. “But it’s really important.”

According to The Women’s Health Organization, sex can decrease depression and anxiety and provide stress releif. 

When people have sex, it releases endorphins and other “reward” chemicals like dopamine, the same chemicals that are released when someone eats sugar and oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone.” This helps reduce the levels of cortisol, which is the chemical linked to stress. 

Since mental health is one of the six pillars of a healthy lifestyle, according to Wellness Services, finding ways to lessen disorders such as anxiety and depression can lead to a better college career.

“As college students, as people figuring out who they want to be, a big thing a lot of people experiment with is sexual activity,” Nguyen said. “Being comfortable with that is especially important when talking about consent, and if you’re not comfortable, then consent is much harder to validate.”

Sex also helps with rest and sleep. After an orgasm, not only are the reward hormones released, but also prolactin, a hormone that relaxes the body. According to CNN, if a person wants a better night's rest, it’s best to get it on with a partner right before bedtime.

Sex, and exploring what turns a person on, can also have mental health benefits to fight depression.

Psychological researcher, Samuel Hughes has done research on how being open about sexuality and sexual desires can improve the mental health of members of the LGBTQ community, the BDSM community and women.

“Identity development is critically important for sexual minority mental health,” Hughes said. “Failure to overcome stigma, and especially internalizing that stigma, can lead to anxiety, depression and suicidality.”

Hughes found in his research that there are five stages of accepting someone’s sexual identity. These identities are not just based on the spectrum of homosexuality or heterosexuality, but focus on things such as kinks.

The stages are based off the five stages of the Cass model of coming out. Hughes’ model identified the five stages as Early Encounters, Exploration with Self, Evaluation, Finding Others and Explorations with Others.

“Many of the themes of our stages, such as dealing with stigma, developing a sense of pride and positivity in one's identity, and comparing themselves to one's peers, also show up in Cass' model,” Hughes said. “However, lesbian and gay folks are often aware, at least in many contexts, that other lesbian and gay folks exist before reaching puberty.”

Hughes pointed out it’s not entirely the same when exploring other parts of one’s sexual identity.

“On the other hand, kinky people often experience kinky desires without knowing what kink is or having the words to describe it, so that role of finding others who are also kinky may be especially important for kinky people to develop positive identities,” Hughes said.

For Nguyen, experimenting with sex in a positive way improves the college experience.

“Sexual frustration is an actual thing,” Nguyen said. “When you get to release those endorphins, you’re not only getting the physical benefits, but it also helps clear your head and focus.”

Leading a healthy life is a priority for the University and it takes advantage of the opportunity to provide STI testing, feminine care and free condoms.They also provide Sex in the Ballroom, a sex education fair. Here students could collect stamps on a note card to win prizes. They could also be entered in a contest to win lube, sex toys and other items.

Sex.

It’s something Midwestern parents told their children that “mommies and daddies do when they’re in love.”

Now it’s time for students to take their sex education to the next level.

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