What is Sexual Health and Wellness?

Sexual Health. When people hear those two words, they often think of sexually transmitted diseases or “safe sex.” Sexual Wellness. Those words often trigger thoughts of being able to perform in the bedroom and being fit and ready for intercourse. Many times, people hear these words and automatically assume they are referring to having a good, or a bad, sex life. All of those refer more to one’s sex life or sexual routine. Really, the actual act of intercourse is not at all the only thing wrapped up in our human need and right for sexual health and wellness.

The Kinsey Institute universally defines sexual health and wellness as, “to embrace and enjoy this vital part of our physical and emotional health in all things tied to our human being.” (Kinsey) Being sexually healthy also means that you know and understand that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behavior. Respecting others sexual rights, having access to all pertinent information about sexual health, education, and care, as well as being able to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections and disease, prevent unplanned pregnancies, and be able to seek out the medical help you might need if any sexual issues ever arise. On top of those things, sexual wellness and health will also touch you on a personal level. As a human, your sexuality allows you to experience pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when and if you choose to partake. Being sexually healthy also means you are comfortable communicating with your partners and healthcare providers about your sexual health and habits. (CDC)

In relation to sexuality, sexual health is really a state of physical, mental, social and emotional well-being pertaining to our sexuality. It is not just the absence of disease or pregnancy, dysfunction or the like. It is not solely the ultimate act of intercourse. Sexual health requires you to share a positive, respectful approach to relationships that are both intimate and sexual, ensuring all parties involved are safe, free of coercion, pressure or domestic violence. (WHO) For one’s sexual health to be on point, their needs, wants and desires must be attained and maintained, while being fully respected, protected, and centered.

One facet of sexual health and wellness are the human rights that are involved and attached. The World Health Organization lists these top rights that, for sexual health and wellness to prosper, should be followed. These can also be found on their web site.

Rights critical to the realization of sexual health include:

  • the rights to equality and non-discrimination
  • the right to be free from torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment
  • the right to privacy
  • the rights to the highest attainable standard of health (including sexual health) and social security
  • the right to marry and to find a family and enter into marriage with the free and full consent of the intending spouses, and to equality in and at the dissolution of marriage
  • the right to decide the number and spacing of one’s children
  • the rights to information, as well as education
  • the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and
  • the right to an effective remedy for violations of fundamental rights.

So, the next time you are wondering about your sexual health and wellness, take all of these things into consideration. If you’re thinking more about the frequency of intimacy in your life or spicing up your sexual routines, read more about the sex life and intimacy.

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