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How can religion and spirituality influence my sexual experience?

Religion, or however you define your spirituality, gives you the moral code or value system from which you function on a daily basis. Since sexual behavior is not just physical, like drinking a glass of water, your moral code is an active part of the sexual experience. If you are engaged in an activity that contradicts your moral code you will have negative emotional reactions to it and the opposite if you are doing an activity congruent with your moral code. Going against your morals, or values, is a highly charged, stressful circumstance that will eventually take a toll on your health if repeated too often over too much time.

Spirituality and religion can influence how we experience our sexuality. Many religions have teachings that prohibit certain sexual thoughts and behaviors, especially outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage. These can leave us with negative feelings about our bodies and sexuality. If we grow up in a religion in which spiritual "goodness" is associated with celibacy or the denial of sexual feelings, we may believe that sexuality and spirituality are unconnected. Some of us leave our religions of origin because of the sexual prohibitions. Some women seek liberal congregations within their own denominations, while others seek denominations that are more sex-affirming. Our sense of spirituality may exist within an organized religion or separate from it. Spirituality can include tapping into one's deepest self, creating a sacred bond with a friend or lover, developing a personal relationship with the divine or a higher power, feeling part of a community, and/or being connected to nature and all beings. Some women focus on unifying sexuality and spirituality—finding the integration of body, mind, and spirit. Our bodies and sex can be sacred. There are many paths to sacred sexuality. A recent survey found that women in relationships with some degree of commitment connect sexuality with spirituality. This connection is facilitated by self-esteem, intense sensuality, being in love, and sharing deep feelings. Drawing upon ancient cultures in which women's bodies, sexuality, and fertility were honored as an integrated part of nature and life, some women find wisdom and strength in connecting sexually with a partner and a divine feminine energy. Others turn to tantra, an Eastern, spiritual philosophy, to explore sexual practices that focus on the interconnectedness of life. By investigating sensations of touch and breathing, creating rituals, and paying attention to subtle energies, they create a sacred connection with their partner(s) and higher power(s).

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.