Dr Shannon Chavez Teams Up With Chispa

Women's Dating

Sex Therapist Dr. Shannon Chavez Teams Up With App Chispa for Sexual Health Awareness Month

Chloë Hylkema

Written by: Chloë Hylkema

Chloë Hylkema

Chloë Hylkema loves using her writing skills to tell stories that matter. Her time as an English student at Emory University molded her into a detailed writer with a knack for the relatable. Chloë is familiar with what it means to date in the modern age, and she endeavors to write material that is both truthful and helpful. She has previously worked as lead campaign writer for an animal advocacy group and now brings her passion for engaging and actionable content to DatingAdvice.com.

See full bio »

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Discuss This! Discuss This!

The Short Version: Chispa, the leading Latino dating app in the United States, is partnering with psychologist and sex therapist Dr. Shannon Chavez to celebrate Sexual Health Awareness Month. Dr. Chavez specializes in treating clients from conservative and religious cultural backgrounds with sexual health and wellness concerns. Chispa and Dr. Chavez are releasing a collection of resources about sex, sexuality, and sexual wellness to help Latino daters learn more about the importance of sexual health.

When I started college, part of freshman orientation was completing a few online modules about sexual health and wellness. It was a college-mandated course and covered the basics of consent, attending to sexual health, and navigating the college years, which are often marked by sexual exploration and brand-new experiences.

I was in my dorm, trying to complete the course, when my random first-year roommate came in. We had been on campus for less than a week, and I didn’t know much about her. She saw what I was working on and laughed, “Oh my gosh, I finished that today, and it was so crazy. So much weird stuff.”

Nothing in the course had struck me as crazy or weird, but after some prompting, my roommate told me that she was raised in a very conservative household. She was home-schooled and had never been exposed to any formal sex education. To my shock, she had never been presented with the idea of consent as articulated in the course.

Cultural backgrounds and traditions shape much of who we are and how we experience our lives. This includes matters of sex and sexual health. When it comes to sex, educational and therapeutic approaches must consider diverse backgrounds and traditions. An individual’s cultural experience can deeply influence how they view and approach sex, their sexualities, and sexual health and wellness.

dr. chavez headshot
Dr. Shannon Chavez, psychologist and sex therapist, is teaming up with Latino dating app Chispa for Sexual Health Awareness Month.

Dr. Shannon Chavez is a culturally informed psychologist and sex therapist. She’s teaming up with Chispa, the leading Latino dating app, for Sexual Health Awareness Month 2023. Dr. Chavez founded her practice around cultural sensitivity and understanding and is working to make sexual health resources more culturally informed. She talked to us about her practice, sexual wellness, and Chispa’s initiatives for Sexual Health Awareness Month.

“I want to make a space where people can feel safe to talk about sex in a judgment-free zone,” Dr. Chavez said. “I want to be a place where they can ask questions and know that someone’s there to help and guide them.”

Sexual Health Advocacy That Considers Cultural Differences

The way a person views their own sexuality and sexual experiences is influenced by many things. How sex and sexuality are discussed in childhood is a considerable factor in how people view sex in adulthood. If sex was an unapproachable topic growing up, odds are it will be difficult to discuss it later in life.

Dr. Chavez told us that cultural and ethnic background has a big influence when it comes to whether sex is discussed at home. She said that many young people in the United States who were raised by first-generation immigrants have to balance the values and ideas of their parents with those of their peers and broader American culture.

“Culture influences our traditions, values, the things that we’ve been taught about how to see the world,” Dr. Chavez said. “It informs how we navigate and observe our relationships. We lean on what has been modeled in our family structures in terms of relationships, or working models of love and romance.”

Dr. Chavez said that Latino communities in the United States frequently navigate a myriad of cultural inputs. She said these communities often meld modern lifestyles and traditional values, a practice that continues into the dating sphere. Many of Dr. Chavez’s patients need help integrating their cultural values with habits and practices they have found work for them.

chispa stat
Chispa asked its users to share some of their thoughts about sexual health.

“A lot of people are getting married later in life or delaying having children, and that affects what their relationships are like and how they value things like relational intimacy and sexual health,” Dr. Chavez told us. She helps folks connect the cultural ideals they value with the lifestyle practices they find serve them best.

Chispa and Dr. Chavez collaborated to curate a collection of sexual wellness resources made for and by Latinos. As an app designed for Latino dating, Chispa recognizes the culture-balancing many Latino Americans experience in day-to-day life. While open conversations about sex and sexual health may not be commonplace in many Latino households, Chispa and Dr. Chavez believe they should be.

“We’re providing resources for singles– information, videos, articles, things that people can access to be able to maybe answer questions that they have or see people’s experiences that are similar to their own,” Dr. Chavez said.

Dr. Chavez Empowers Healthy Attitudes

The resources that Dr. Chavez created for Chispa are focused on shame-free sexual education that is culturally informed. The resources embrace sexual well-being and highlight the importance of sexual health education. Chispa wants its user base to prioritize their sexual well-being and foster open conversations about sexual health.

Dr. Chavez said that talking about sexual health is a skill in itself. People who come from conservative upbringings where sex wasn’t discussed openly often have a particularly difficult time talking about sex and sexual health. The resources cover advice for communication about sex, like how to foster shame-free environments and use empowered language.

All of the resources from Chispa and Dr. Chavez come from a place of cultural understanding. They recognize that cultural influences definitely matter when it comes to how people perceive sexuality. Dr. Chavez has created a series of videos that focus on balancing culture and desire and how to embrace identity while exploring preferences. 

chispa stat
Chispa users said that fear, shame, and stigmas are top barriers for Latinos in discussing sex.

Sexual health is a core facet of overall personal health, so poor sexual health can affect many other areas of health, including emotional and relational health. When sexual health suffers, so do other areas of health. The importance of sexual health for overall health is a big motivation for Chispa and Dr. Chavez in creating these resources.

Resources also tackle relationship concerns and how to improve sexual communication within a partnership. When couples focus on improving their sexual communication and pleasure, other areas of their relationship also experience improvement. Investing in the sexual health of a relationship is an investment in the relationship as a whole.

“Sexual health is a big umbrella of so many things, it goes beyond just the act of sex,” Dr. Chavez said. “It’s our relationship with our body, it’s intimacy skills, it’s social connections, it’s understanding desire and passion, seeing our influences– understanding ourselves.”

When people go to Chispa for sexual health resources, they can be sure they’re getting reliable information. Dr. Chavez has carefully created each resource to be sex-positive, reputable, and culturally informed. 

Exploring & Embracing Sex and Sexuality

Dr. Chavez’s expertise imbues the resources she made with Chispa with a sense of authority. As a therapist, Dr. Chavez takes a mind-body approach to sexual health and pleasure enhancement. This means she considers a client’s beliefs, values, feelings, culture, religion, and experiences during treatment. 

Dr. Chavez helps her clients explore their values and beliefs and how those values and beliefs manifest. She teaches her clients the science of sex, sexual anatomy, and sexual functioning. Dr. Chavez guides her clients to develop behavioral exercises to improve sexual functioning.

Latino Americans often value family and community. Dr. Chavez and Chispa hope their resources encourage bigger discussions about sexual health among families and friend groups. They hope the resources can help Latinos facilitate these kinds of conversations.

couple embracing
Couples and singles can find excellent sexual health resources on Chispa.

“We’re working to help people understand they can take their own journey to figure out what ‘healthy’ means to them,” Dr. Chavez said. “There’s no norm when we’re talking about sexual health, yet so many of us have been told what is healthy or unhealthy.”

By tackling misconceptions and breaking down stigmas, Chispa and Dr. Chavez are encouraging healthier lifestyles. Sexual wellness attends to more than sex – it considers romantic relationships, interpersonal communication, and emotional and mental health.

“It’s important when you’re accessing information that it feels approachable and useful,” Dr. Chavez said. “We’re presenting all this information in a casual way that doesn’t stigmatize. We want you to get curious, and get the answers you’re looking for.”