Sexual health is a field of medicine that aims to promote wellness in relation to one’s sexuality. Because the definition of sexuality can vary with different religions, cultures, and countries, it is difficult to frame a concrete and specific standard of sexual health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual health as follows:
“Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation 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.”
Based on this definition, sexual health encompasses a broad range of medical topics including:
- Healthy relationships and Safe sex - Sexual health is about the promotion of safe and healthy sexual activities between partners. It promotes respect to the right of every individual to engage in sexual activities out of free will and not of coercion or violence. Sexual health is about providing psychosocial support to individuals who have been victims of sexual abuse. It is also about providing counseling to couples who need to build healthier and stronger relationships.
- Prevention of unwanted pregnancy - Unwanted pregnancies and abortions are the unhealthy results of unplanned sex. Sexual health is about promoting planned sexual activities and promoting contraception where it is needed.
- Prevention of sexually transmitted diseases - Sexually transmitted diseases are a public health concern that affects the physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being of the afflicted individual. Not only does the disease create biological changes to the body, it also afflicts the emotions and mentality of the individual because of the stigma associated to it
- Management of sexual dysfunction - Sexual health is not just about the prevention of disease, unwanted pregnancies or sexual violence; it is also about assisting individuals to find pleasure in sex. Some individuals are unable to feel pleasure in sex due to some conditions such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, low libido, vaginal dryness, or dyspareunia (painful intercourse). Health professionals such as urologists and gynecologists can assist individuals in finding solutions to these medical conditions.