What is Sexual Health?
Jan 2013 31

What is Sexual Health? What does being sexually healthy mean to you? Is it the same for everyone or does it differ by age, race, culture, or sub-culture?

Really, defining sexual health isn’t easy. Standards of sexual health vary by individual, community, and culture (just to name a few). I know you might be thinking, well isn’t it obvious…sexual health is the “ability of an individual (or a community) to avoid getting STDs and unwanted (or unintended pregnancy).”

And that’s exactly right! But according to the American Sexual Health Association that is just one part of the definition.

So what about those of us who have had a STI or experienced an unwanted pregnancy? Are we automatically sexually unhealthy?

Not. At. All.

The ASHA adds that sexual health is “the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is an important part of our physical and emotional health.”

Broken down, this means that being sexually healthy includes 6 key parts:

  1. Understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behavior.
  2. Recognizing and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
  3. Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
  4. Making an effort to prevention unintended pregnancies and STDs and seek care and treatment when needed.
  5. Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired.
  6. Being able to communicate about sexual health with others included sexual partners and healthcare providers. )

Conversations about sexual health are often focused on STD and pregnancy prevention. I guess my question to you is: How do change the conversation about sexual health to be inclusive of the ASHA?

More importantly where do our conversations about pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy fit in? And how do we make that a priority?

The ASHA is right, sexual health is more than just the prevention of STIs, HIV/AIDS, and unintended pregnancy. It’s important that recognize all aspects of our sexuality and be sensitive how sexuality differs among people and cultures.

[Reference: American Sexual Health Association (ASHA)]

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