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Sexual health and Middle Eastern women

Written by Sahar Daryan
Feb 15, 2021   •   
Sexual health and Middle Eastern women

I come from Iran, an Islamic country, and I understand how it feels to know nothing about one of the most important things when entering an adult relationship. I had no idea how to show interest in sex or the best way to initiate it, what the best and most appropriate contraceptives are, or how an orgasm feels.

I never talked to my first boyfriend about how I felt and how I liked it, and so I know how hard it can be. Being in a male dominant society, I thought “it” should be done whenever the man wants to – my consent or desire was not taken into account.

That is why I decided to write this article to inform women around me who might feel just like me.

Talking and learning about intimate parts of the human body and sex in the Middle East and Islamic countries is still taboo. It is not spoken about and most people feel ashamed talking about it. A lot of people do not like to discuss this topic except with their closest friends, and even then with hesitation. Unfortunately, the information people can access in these countries is limited and most of the resources are inappropriate, leaving people with nowhere to turn for accurate information.

There is a lack of sex education in school, in universities and in families, so the only time most people face this fact is just after marriage – in most of these countries, relationships before marriage are also inappropriate, and not accepted by families or societies.

The result of this secretive attitude towards sexuality is confusing and can be detrimental to marriages, relationships and mental health. Some people even hesitate to discuss it after marriage with their partners as they don’t have any information about right or wrong feelings, ways of intimacy or contraception.

As well as poor sexual education from schools, social misconceptions and pressures also take a toll on women. “Middle Eastern women are reluctant to discuss matters related to sexual health for fear of being judged by others. Social pressures lead them to seek information from unreliable sources,” says a voluntary counselling and testing coordinator at ‘Marsa Sexual Health Centre’ in Beirut.

It is important to talk to your partner about foreplay, as it helps to get both people sexually aroused and ready for vaginal sex. Men don’t know how women are feeling or if they are ready for penetration. Bad and painful sex can damage women’s mental health. If you don’t feel like doing it, just say NO.

Talk to your partner about different positions and ways of intercourse. It is vital to feel comfortable and safe to talk to them about your feelings and desires. If you feel shy or are not sure how to explain yourself, please refer to a sexual health clinic and be honest in explaining what your problem is, without leaving out any detail. They are there to help you – not to judge you – so the more information you give them, the more helpful they can be.

I believe it’s critical to provide young women around the world with the necessary tools to feel empowered.

I intend to inspire the new generation of women from my country, as well as neighbouring countries, to fully understand their body, have no shame and make mindful decisions about their sexual relations.

  • Happy Peeps is a relationship and sexual counselling centre in Brisbane which offers services over online video or phone calls. Click here to find out more.
  • If you prefer to gather some information online, you can also refer to some online and trusted sources like Sexual Health, Australian Government which has programs in place to improve sexual health and prevent and monitor sexually transmissible infections.
  • Health Direct is another government-funded service providing quality information and advice with a 24/7 hotline service.

Sahar runs Limitless Mummas in Southport, QLD. To find out more about her and get in touch, click here.

You can also find her on Instagram.

Written by Sahar Daryan
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