As defined by the World Health Organization, sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples, and families and to the social and economic development of communities and countries. Sexual health, when viewed affirmatively, requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. The ability of men and women to achieve sexual health and well-being depends on their:
access to comprehensive, good-quality information about sex and sexuality;
knowledge about the risks they may face and their vulnerability to adverse consequences of unprotected sexual activity;
ability to access sexual health care;
living in an environment that affirms and promotes sexual health.
Sexual health-related issues are wide-ranging and encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual expression, relationships, and pleasure. They also include negative consequences or conditions such as:
infections with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and reproductive tract infections (RTIs) and their adverse outcomes (such as cancer and infertility);
unintended pregnancy and abortion;
sexual violence; and
harmful practices (such as female genital mutilation, FGM).
What influences Sexual Health?
How we personally define sexual health will be different for each person. The reason is that sexual health is influenced by many personal and social factors such as:
Our values and beliefs
The people around us
Our personal experiences
and Legal and/or sexual rights
Think about what factors influence your sexual health? What messages have you been given about sexual health from…(if applicable)…..your family? friends? society? culture? religion? spirituality? social and mass media? How have these impacted your own values and beliefs?
How we experience our sexual health is also part of how we experience the world.
Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being related to sexuality. It is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected, and fulfilled.
Sexual health is broad and needs regular, open, honest, and progressive discussions to really understand it. Stay tuned on my blog for more on sexual health.