Key conceptual elements of sexual health
- Sexual health is about well-being, not merely the absence of disease.
- Sexual health involves respect, safety and freedom from discrimination and violence.
- Sexual health depends on the fulfilment of certain human rights.
- Sexual health is relevant throughout the individual’s lifespan, not only to those in the reproductive years, but also to both the young and the elderly.
- Sexual health is expressed through diverse sexualities and forms of sexual expression.
- Sexual health is critically influenced by gender norms, roles, expectations and power dynamics.
Sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples. 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.
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 dysfunction;
- sexual violence; and
- harmful practices (such as female genital mutilation, FGM).