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Pleasurable Reproductive Choices

Guest blog by MSI Reproductive Choice

MSI Reproductive Choices is excited to partner with The Pleasure Project and join their growing movement. We believe that by taking a pleasure inclusive approach to our work and communications, and integrating The Pleasure Principles into our work, we can better support our clients to make choices about their bodies and futures.  

Who is The Pleasure Project? 

The Pleasure Project is an advocacy organisation who, for nearly 20 years, have been developing and championing pleasure inclusive language across the sexual and reproductive health and rights community. Founder Anne Philpott established The Pleasure Project after working in HIV prevention and safer sex promotion where she observed that pleasure-based language and sexy tips resonated more with audiences, allowing them to negotiate and practise good safer sex much more than the fear-based messaging that’s traditionally been used in sexual and reproductive health campaigns.

Anne attended a global HIV conference and was surprised at how little sex was mentioned. “If an alien had landed on Earth and attended this conference, they would have believed that HIV was an airborne disease,” Anne shared. This inspired Anne to work on reframing sexual and reproductive healthcare messaging from “death, danger, and disease” to the positive health and wellbeing benefits of sex.

Since then, The Pleasure Project has worked alongside key SRHR delivery organisations, such as the World Association of Sexual Health, IPPF and the UN, to embrace pleasure inclusive language. In 2022, The Pleasure Project and the World Health Organisation Organisation published groundbreaking evidence to show that a pleasure inclusive approach is not only more appealing but also more effective and ensures better sexual health outcomes. MSI is excited to join The Pleasure Project’s growing network and weave in a pleasure-based approach to our sexual and reproductive health services.

What is a pleasure-based approach?

A pleasure-based approach to sexual and reproductive health champions sex positivity and acknowledges the beneficial outcomes sex can bring. By focusing on pleasure, and individual’s desires, the sexual and reproductive healthcare sector can normalise conversations around these topics and tackle stigma about contraception and abortion in the process. By opening up discussions around pleasure, we can champion people’s safety, well-being, and desire, all of which will benefit our clients and feed into MSI’s focus on client-centred care.

What are The Pleasure Principles?

The Pleasure Principles are inspirational fun guidance to put the new evidence and best practices of pleasure based sexual health into action, they are;

  1. Be Positive: Core to all the pleasure principles is being sex positive. Remember when you feel safe and are safe, sex can be very good for you.
  2. Rights First: Sexual rights and human rights are core to a person’s sexuality: These are the building blocks of pleasure based sexual health.
  3. Think Universal: Everyone has the ability to experience pleasure. Recognise individual differences and identities, and ensure everyone is included in pleasure-based sexual health.
  4. Be Flexible: Be adaptive in your approach to each unique context and culture. Recognise that pleasure-based sexual health is possible for all.
  5. Talk Sexy: Pleasure-positive messaging communicate positively & effectively: adopt evidence-based pleasure inclusive language across media and mediums.
  6. Embrace Learning: There is a growing body of evidence about the impact of pleasure positive approaches on sexual health. Use this knowledge to spread sex positivity.
  7. Love Yourself: to build a pleasure-inclusive world, love yourself. Show kindness to yourself and others. Collaborate with and promote other pleasure champions.

Why are The Pleasure Principles important? 

Often, sex education focuses on the negative consequences of sex, for example, unintended pregnancies, or sexually transmitted diseases, rather than the benefits sex can bring. By focusing on pleasure, safer sex can be taught in a positive light, sharing the motivations behind sex, the benefits of sexual bonding, and the ways in which safe sex can aid a healthy sex life.

For example, research conducted by the World Association of Sexual Health, Technical Guide to the Sexual Pleasure Declaration, 2021 found that “solo and/or partnered sexual activity is associated with improved health, longevity, immunity, pain management, self-esteem and a reduction in stress.” The research also found that pleasure-based language can be empowering and challenge gendered stereotypes of pleasure.

MSI Reproductive Choices

How MSI will apply The Pleasure Principles

At a time when reproductive rights are under attack globally, it is more important than ever that we challenge the stigma surrounding reproductive healthcare.

Director of Advocacy and Partnerships, Bethan Cobley shared, “I see The Pleasure Principles as another tool we can use in seeking common ground with our clients. Our local providers and advocates are the experts in embracing challenging conversations to address stigma and entrenched attitudes at both community and national level in a respectful way.”

At MSI, we believe our collaboration with The Pleasure Project will improve our client journey and help to make our services more accessible for all. In endorsing The Pleasure Principles, we commit to producing respectful, inclusive and sex positive global communications, and strengthening our capacity to support the integration of the Pleasure Principles into our sexual and reproductive health guidance, information sharing and service delivery.

MSI is proud to partner with The Pleasure Project and endorse The Pleasure Principles. By working to normalise pleasure-inclusive language, we can improve access to sexual and reproductive healthcare – we’re excited to be part of this movement for change.