Condition Spotlight

Sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries. Sexual health, when viewed affirmatively, 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.

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Coming up with a definition of sexual health is a difficult task, as each culture, sub-culture, and individual has different standards of what it is. Being sexually healthy is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is an important part of our physical and emotional health.

Sexual health is an important part of physical and mental health. It is a key part of our identity as human beings together with the fundamental human rights to privacy, a family life, and living free from discrimination. Essential elements of good sexual health are equitable relationships and fulfillment with access to information and services to avoid the risk of unintended pregnancy, illness or disease.

Sexuality is a big part of being human. Love, affection and sexual intimacy all play a role in healthy relationships. They also contribute to your sense of well-being. A number of disorders can affect the ability to have or enjoy sex in both men and women.

Factors that can affect our sexuality include

  • Fear of unplanned pregnancy
  • Concerns about infertility
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease
  • Medicines that affect sexual desire or performance

Just as physical and mental health problems can contribute to sexual dysfunction and diseases, those dysfunctions and diseases can contribute to physical and mental health problems. Sexual health is not limited to the absence of disease or dysfunction, nor is its important confined to just the reproductive years.

Lifestyle changes, especially those associated with sexual habits, are important for prevention of genitourinary problems, as well as for a person’s overall health. Protected intercourse through the use of condoms not only helps to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but also to avoid contamination of the male urethra by vaginal flora. Likewise, it is the only defense, short of abstinence, a humans can take against sexually transmitted diseases, from herpes to AIDS.