Sexual Wellness and Why Everyone Deserves Pleasure

Sexual Wellness and Why Everyone Deserves Pleasure


Ava Daza Zanirato and Dr. Rica Cruz weigh in on sexual wellness, masturbation, and why we need to have open conversations about sex

In a conservative country such as the Philippines where sex and masturbation are still considered taboo in many circles, changemakers like Ava Daza Zanirato and Dr. Rica Cruz are breaths of fresh air. Through their various projects and businesses, they help to further the discussion on sexual health and wellness so that more Filipinos can be better educated.

Sexual Wellness and Why Everyone Deserves Pleasure

Notably, Ava is the co-founder of sexual wellness brand Jellytime and co-host of The Sexytime Podcast. Meanwhile, Dr. Rica is a sex and relationships therapist, the CEO and founder of Unprude, as well as the host of two podcasts, Conservative Ako and Sexy Minds Podcast, and TV shows such as One PH Feelings and Private Convos with Doc Rica.

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To bring your attention to the importance of sexual wellness, MEGA Active interviewed the two for their insights and expert advice.

Why no one wants to talk about it

Photo: ISABELLE DAZA (via Instagram)
Photo: DR. RICA CRUZ (via Instagram)

In our interview with Ava, she described humans as sexual beings. And yet, there is still so much shame attached to the word—sex. Following that, we asked Dr. Rica where she thinks this negative connotation stems from. She answered simply, “I think it’s because, for the longest time, it wasn’t talked about. It was seen as something so taboo, it wasn’t talked about. And when you don’t talk about something, it’s construed as something shameful or something bad.”

She continued by saying that masturbation was seen as self-pleasure with no function. And, obviously, you can’t procreate through masturbation as you can through sex, so many think of masturbation as unnecessary and a sin. “And what they’re saying is—although it’s not explicitly said in the Bible that masturbation is wrong or sinful—when you masturbate, you have lustful thoughts. So those lustful thoughts are the ones frowned upon,” she explained.

Sexual Wellness and Why Everyone Deserves Pleasure

As a result, many people think of masturbation as unhealthy, abnormal, and bad. However, Dr. Rica asserts that masturbation does have a function. “The pleasure that you get from masturbation has a lot of function—has a lot of benefits for you as a person,” she said.

During our conversation, Dr. Rica pointed to two of her published studies related to this topic—Filipinos Behind Closed Doors: Nonsexual and Sexual Constructs as Predictors of Sexual and Relationship Satisfaction in Filipino Individuals, as well as The wife, the mother, and the slut: sexual pleasure for the Filipino woman a grounded theory approach. It goes without saying that she knows what she’s talking about.

Masturbation and sexual well-being 

Sexual Wellness and Why Everyone Deserves Pleasure

Concerning the questions about the possible unhealthy side of masturbation, Dr. Rica said there’s no definite number on what’s considered a healthy amount of times to masturbate. Based on one of the studies she’s done, she found that Filipino men masturbated around two to three times a week whereas Filipino women masturbated two to three times a month.

“There’s no healthy, normal number. It’s really up to you. If you want to masturbate everyday, so be it. If you want to masturbate once a year, so be it. If you don’t want to masturbate at all, so be it,” she expressed. That being said, masturbation and any kind of sexual behavior can become problematic for a person if it causes that person clinically significant distress like symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Sexual Wellness and Why Everyone Deserves Pleasure

According to Dr. Rica, masturbation can also become problematic when it impairs your functioning, like if you masturbate five times a day and you don’t work anymore or forget to do your tasks. The third sign that masturbation has become a problem for you is if it becomes non-consensual. This means that you’re hurting someone else by masturbating on them or if you’re violating another’s boundaries by engaging in voyeurism.

All in all, you’re exploring your sexual self in a healthy way if you’re not hurting yourself or others in the process. This is something that Ava and Dr. Rica encourage—keeping an open mind and staying curious. Both of their pieces of advice on reaching a state of sexual well-being were centered on accepting that we are sexual people and that we should allow ourselves to know our own preferences and limits when it comes to sex more in this way.

Sexual Wellness and Why Everyone Deserves Pleasure

Ava added that sexual wellness and self-awareness are important because she’s seen how people become happier and more confident as a result. They have also become more attuned to their bodies and can reach satisfaction because they are able to tell others what they do and don’t like in bed. She emphasized that there’s no shame in receiving pleasure and that, in fact, everyone deserves pleasure.


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