Sexual Health and Safety

People commonly equate sexual health with reproductive health. However, sexual health is much broader. According to WHO definition of health has therefore been adapted to define sexual health as:
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 (World Association for Sexual Health, 2007)
Sexual safety is important it protects against unwanted pregnancy and STIs. Sexual health is broader than reproductive health and includes sexual freedom, sexual pleasure, and sexual safety. Sexual problems are remarkably common, with the majority of adult women and men reporting at least one sexual problem in the previous year. A substantial minority of women and men have experienced sexual coercion or abuse. This is associated with poor psychological and physical wellbeing, increased health anxiety, increased health service use, and more health-compromising behaviors.

Chronic Pelvic Pain may arise from dysfunction in several different organ systems. Because its underlying causes may be difficult to determine, it may not be possible to give patients the accurate diagnosis or effective treatment they are seeking. Sexual risks include unwanted pregnancies and contracting STIs, both of which can be avoided by practicing safer sex.

Many people feel embarrassed talking about sexual behavior and sexual problems. Let patients know that you are comfortable talking about these issues in a non-judgmental way. When prescribing oral contraception, ensure that patients are aware that non-barrier methods offer no protection against STIs. Encourage individuals and their sexual partner to be tested (and treated) for STIs.

People are more likely to use condoms if you address their attitudes and beliefs. However, it is also important to help people develop the skills needed to negotiate condom use with sexual partners.

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