Sex & RelationshipsSexual Health

Black Women’s Sexual Health Matters

Black women want to be a part of the conversation too. This article highlights sex-positive information related to Black women and their sexual lives.

Sex-positive data about Black women and their sexuality is often under-represented in sexuality education materials.

There’s a reason the theme for this year’s Black History Month is Black Health and Wellness, paying homage to medical scholars and health care providers. This theme is exceptionally important as we continue to live through the COVID-19 pandemic, which has inordinately affected BIPOC communities.

Research dedicated to understanding the sexual lives of Black women has historically focused on behaviors that lead to stereotypes and myths, rather than clear, unbiased data.

That’s why it’s critical that resources promoting Black women’s sexual health are made available, and researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University did just that!

They recently created three infographics focused on Black women’s sexuality using data from the 2018 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, supported by Church & Dwight Co., Inc. Designed by Erin Tobey, the infographics are intended to be culturally sensitive, inclusive of gender and sexual identities, and varying across the lifespan.

The development of these infographics was supported by Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health (PBF). Patty Brisben, the founder of Pure Romance, supports  sexual health education and the promotion of sexuality research for all women.

    • The first image reveals how often an orgasm occurred—68%—during Black women’s most recent sexual experience.

    • The second image illustrates how often sex was rated as either quite or extremely pleasurable—74%—during Black women’s most recent sexual experience.

  • The third image depicts two of the most common sexual activities during Black women’s most recent sexual experience, kissing (75%) and cuddling. (60%).

Additional common sexual activities reported by Black women include breast touching/nipple stimulation (71%), penile-vaginal intercourse (68%), vaginal fingering (45%), and receiving oral sex from a partner (40%).

It is really important that all people have access to sex-positive information related to their sexual lives. Sexuality education materials and resources are essential to supporting women as they learn to own their sexuality. Let’s celebrate Black women because their bodies, their health, and their sexual lives matter too!

Ashley Townes

Ashley Townes

PhD, MPH, Epidemiologist at Centers for Disease Control
Dr. Ashley Townes (she/her/hers), is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati, where she received both her Bachelors and Master of Public Health degrees. She received her doctorate degree in Health Behavior and Epidemiology from Indiana University.

Dr. Townes has experience working as a Community Health Educator and Disease Intervention Specialist in Cincinnati and the surrounding areas. She has worked on several initiatives related to the dissemination of national HIV prevention and care campaign materials tailored for African Americans, Hispanic/Latinx, and transgender women of color. Dr. Townes has taught collegiate-level Human Sexuality courses, served as an Epidemiologist at the Ohio Department of Health, and currently works as an ORISE Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention’s Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA.

Ashley’s research background includes work on the sexual experiences of African American/Black women accessing health information and utilizing sexual health services. In 2018, she received grant funding from the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health to translate sexual health research data into educational materials. Her career interests are aimed at providing quality sexual education and working towards health equity.