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Concept of Sexual Health. Sex. Sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male. In general use in many languages, the term sex is often used to mean “sexual activity ”. Sexual health.

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  • Sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male.
  • In general use in many languages, the term sex is often used to mean “sexual activity”
sexual health
Sexual health
  • International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994
  • According to the current working definition, 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.” (WHO, 2006)


Sexual health is fundamental to the physical and emotional health and well-being of individuals, couples and families

  • Sexual health encompasses the rights of all persons to have the knowledge and opportunity to pursue a safe and pleasurable sexual life.
  • Sexual health is defined as an approach to sexuality founded in accurate knowledge, personal awareness, and self-acceptance
  • Sexual health involves an ability to be intimate with a partner, to communicate explicitly about sexual needs and desires, to be sexually functional, and to set appropriate sexual boundaries. 
  • Sexual health has a communal aspect, reflecting not only self-acceptance and respect, but also respect and appreciation for individual differences and diversity, and a feeling of belonging to and involvement in one’s sexual culture(s).
  • Sexual health includes a sense of self-esteem, personal attractiveness and competence, as well as freedom from sexual dysfunction, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual assault/coercion.
  • Sexual health affirms sexuality as a positive force, enhancing other dimensions of one’s life
  • Sexual health is a broad area that encompasses many inter-related challenges and problems.
  • Key among the issues and concerns are human rights related to sexual health, sexual pleasure and sexual satisfaction, diseases (HIV/AIDS, STIs, RTIs), violence, female genital mutilation, sexual dysfunction, and mental health related to sexual health.

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 face and their vulnerability to the
  • Adverse consequences of sexual activity;
  • Their access to sexual health care;
  • An environment that affirms and promotes sexual health.
key elements of sexual health
Key elements of sexual health
  • STIs and RTIs (including HIV);
  • Unintended pregnancy and safe abortion;
  • Sexual dysfunction and infertility;
  • Violence related to gender and sexuality
  • Young people’s sexual health and sexual health education;
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Mental health issues related to sexual health;
  • The impact of physical disabilities and chronic illnesses on sexual well-being; and
  • The promotion of safe and satisfying sexual experiences.
health system should provide
Health system should provide
  • Sexual health education and prevention information for young people, single adults, and couples, where confidentiality and privacy are assured.
  • Sexuality counselling for the client's sexual health concerns or needs, and desired sexuality, reproductive or contraceptive preferences.
  • Identification and referral for victims of sexual and other forms of violence.

Voluntary counselling, testing, treatment and follow-up for STIs, including HIV.

  • Diagnosis, screening, treatment and follow-up for RTIs, reproductive cancers, and associated infertility.
  • Diagnosis and referral for sexual dysfunction.
  • Safe abortion to the full extent of the law.
  • Post-abortion care, including provision of contraceptive information, counselling and methods.