What Is The Definition Of Sexual Health?

Sexual health is influenced by a great many factors ranging from behaviour, attitudes, and conditioning, to biological and genetic factors. It encompasses the problems of HIV, unintended pregnancy and abortion, infertility and sexual dysfunction. Sexual health can also be influenced by mental health, acute and chronic illnesses, and violence.

It also involves the individual, family, community, health system level legal and regulatory environments where the sexual rights of all people are upheld.

Ideas and norms about sexuality and health come from a variety of sources including social custom, science, medicine, religious belief, and personal experiences. As a result, no one definition of sexual health is likely to adequately represent this diversity, especially when professional opinions on sexuality and sexual health are formed by training and social position which in turn, are often influenced by the individual’s culture, socio-economic status, religion, etc.

Because the words “health” and “healthy” are often linked to the field of medicine, they carry a medical connotation and authority. As a result, the term “sexual health” can be misused to express approval or disapproval of specific behaviours or individuals under what may seem to be “medical truth”. This is the reason why some sex educators and therapists are fearful of promoting a concept of sexual health (directly, by defining it, or indirectly, by developing guidelines) through education.

Also it’s worth keeping in mind that definitions of sexual health can change and should not be taken as rigid rules of conduct.

The World Health Organisation says…

“Sexual health is…the integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love.”

“…a capacity to enjoy and control sexual and reproductive behaviour in accordance with a social and personal ethic.”

“…freedom from fear, shame, guilt, false beliefs and other psychological factors inhibiting sexual response and impairing sexual relationships.”

“…freedom from organic disorders, diseases and deficiencies that interfere with sexual and reproductive function.”

Good sexual health means making sure you have the knowledge, skills and ability to make informed sexual choices and acting responsibly to protect your health and the health of others.

Sexual Health

Sexual health can be described as a state of physical, mental and social well-being with respect to one’s sexuality. It involves a positively respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the likely possibility of having sexual experiences that are pleasurable and safe, free of coercion, discrimination and of course violence.

When talking about sexual health, various areas are to be considered and understood properly if one’s goal is to be on the positive side of sexual health. Sections like sexual practices, sexual safety and communication between partners are important aspects to be touched when talking about sexual health.

To begin with, the importance of communication cannot be overstressed. Good communication is a fundamental aspect of sexual health. It’s about the development of skills necessary to express your feelings to your partner at any given time. It’s about being able to tell your partner what you would want and wouldn’t want. It’s also about being able to ask the right questions, and being able to accurately source things you’ve heard/read somewhere.

At some points in our lives, we become potential targets for sexual exploitation. Still, that doesn’t mean we should eventually end up being victims to the exploitation. Exploitation can come in physical, financial or emotional forms. Sexual exploiters can range from abusive parents to media content producers. Protection from such situations includes being able to recognize such situations when they arise and being able to avoid them in order to prevent any sexual pressure and coercion. Being able to get advice and pointers on what to do if you’ve been sexually abused is also a good measure to take.

Sexual practice is another key element of sexual health. The measures that you take to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancy and unwanted sex are not to be taken for granted. For something that seems pretty simple, sex has a lot of people confused about its facts. Some people have sex and don’t even know that they do. Some people often confuse contraception with safe sex. Contraception involves preventing sperm from its target which is the egg while safe sex involves the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. People are unknowingly contracting STIs. Not many people are concerned about their sexual preferences, and this is an issue. Understanding the difference between sexual identity, sexual behavior and sexual orientation are important steps to take in achieving good sexual health.