Importance of sexual health awareness

Sexual health

Sexual health is a topic most people often avoid or shy away from. However, it’s an important aspect of the overall health and well-being of couples, individuals, families, and communities.

When viewed with zero discrimination, sexual health requires an approach that’s full of positivity and utmost respect especially when it comes to sexuality and sexual relationships.

But let’s go back to basics. Not everyone is aware of what sexual health is and what aspects of our lives it covers. With the right information, you may feel empowered to achieve optimum sexual health and well-being for yourself, your partner, your family, and the community you belong to.

What is sexual health

According to the World Health Organization, 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, 2006a)

Sexual health isn’t just about intimacy and reproduction, it also involves the physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions. Sexually healthy individuals should:

  • Be able to communicate and interact with all genders with respect to verbal and non-verbal cues, limits, and boundaries.
  • Be capable of developing relationships with the utmost respect, control, and accountability, with or without sexual agenda.
  • Appreciate themselves, be comfortable with who they are, and be confident of who they want to be.
  • Understand the importance and limitations of sexual health and the consequences of any sexual activity.
  • Tolerate and respect people with different values and not be threatened by those with different sexual orientations or genders from theirs.
  • Practice safe and healthy sexual behaviors and habits

Common sexual health problems

There’s a wide range of issues related to sexual health, especially since it covers a diverse community of varying sexual orientations, gender identities, and more. The most common sexual health-related problems include:

  • Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV
  • Sexually transmitted infections or STIs
  • Reproductive tract infections or RTIs
  • Cancer
  • Infertility
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sexual violence
  • Unwanted pregnancies
  • Abortions
  • Harmful sexual practices

Tips for practicing sexual health self-care

Every individual can achieve optimum sexual health. Minor issues can easily be resolved by making a few adjustments in your lifestyle, relationships, and personal habits.

Practicing safe sexual health and hygiene habits

Taking good care of yourself is a manifestation of self-love. Making sure that your body is clean, healthy, and functional is a step forward to overall sexual health and well-being. Get regular checkups for reproductive health-related issues, eat a balanced diet, and practice safe sex and after-sex habits.

If you’re sexually active, get tested for HIV and sexually transmitted infections or diseases regularly. Most STIs and STDs don’t have symptoms so, if you feel like you’re at a higher risk of getting one, then get tested at the nearest urgent care center, sexual health clinic, or doctor’s office near you.

Getting reliable sexual health education

Scheduling sexual health and wellness visits with your doctor gives you opportunities to ask questions about your sexuality, sexual relationships, birth control, and more. There are numerous myths and misconceptions about the topic of sexual health. It may seem harmless to practice them but not if it compromises your health and safety. If you’re in doubt, ask your doctor or a sexual health specialist to get the right answers.

Everyone’s encouraged to learn about sexual health that’s why schools are making an effort to provide it to youth who are in the pre-puberty, puberty, and young adult stage. But it’s never too late to get educated about sexual health. As an adult, you can still access educational materials and resources that can help you widen your knowledge of sexual health.

You should never ignore or take for granted valuable studies that have to do with sexual health. When you’re equipped with the right knowledge, you’re more confident and comfortable in choosing partners and making better decisions in relationships, family planning, and self-care.

Access up-to-date sexual health information

Knowing your options is important especially when it comes to birth control. It can seem overwhelming but a healthcare provider can help narrow it down for you. It’s important that you have access to reliable information about birth control so you can choose the most suitable option for you and your partner. Here are a few reliable sources of information about sexual health:

Discussing sexual health with your partner

If you’re in a relationship, it’s important to have “the talk” with your partner. It’s normal to feel ashamed or awkward about it. It’s a sensitive topic and it’s not common for people to discuss it. But when it comes to safe sex, being on the same page can help you resolve differences in values and desires. Some of the few things you may want to talk about are:

  • The risks of STIs and STDs, regardless of whether you’re exclusive or open
  • Preferences when it comes to sexual activities
  • Birth control and what to do with unwanted pregnancies
  • Starting a family
  • Number of children you want to have

Sexual health awareness

Raising awareness on sexual health is consequential. Everyone can gain so much through sexual health education, outreach, and prevention efforts, especially at the local community level. So, make sure that you get information from resources that are in a position to address public health concerns and answer sexual health concerns.

Participating and getting involved in prevention and treatment activities can help encourage other people to do the same, hence, empowering the awareness campaign. And where prevention falls short, medical professionals and healthcare providers are there to assist and support by providing excellent sexual health services, STD screenings, and treatment.

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