What is the meaning of sexuality and sexual health?
Many people regard sexuality as the ability to enjoy a healthy sex life. While that is an important component, sexuality and sexual health is far more encompassing than that. It can affect every aspect of an individuals’ life, from their relationships to their physical and mental health.
Sexual health has many dimensions, including the following:
- Relationships: For a lot of people, enjoyment of sex is greatly enhanced when it is part of an intimate emotional relationship. The two often go hand-in-hand, and problems in one area can sometimes be addressed by working on the other.
- Pregnancy: Since the biological function of sex is reproduction, sexually active couples may have to consider planned pregnancies, what happens in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, and how to maintain a healthy, fulfilling sex life during and after pregnancy.
- Disease prevention: It is everybody’s responsibility to ensure that they do not contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) through unprotected sex. People do not always have visible signs of infection, and sadly, many people do not disclose STDs to potential sexual partners.
- LGBT individuals: Sexual health is equally important for members of the LGBT community. Specific considerations include sexuality in individuals who are undergoing or have undergone a gender transition, and the health, safety and sexual confidence of LGBT individuals who are threatened by discrimination
- Survivors of sexual assault: Individuals who have been victims of sexual assault may lack sexual confidence, or they may be triggered by certain acts.
How does sexuality differ between men and women?
Sexuality is an important aspect of physical and mental health for both men and women. While there are large areas of overlap, there are elements of sexual health that differ between men and women.
Some specific concerns that relate to women are as follows:
- How sex drive changes throughout the menstrual cycle
- Sex during and after pregnancy
- Sexual health during perimenopause
Some specific concerns that relate to men are as follows:
- Erectile dysfunction and other sexual health concerns
- The use of sexual enhancement drugs like Viagra
- The validity and effectiveness of penis enlargement products
How should we talk to our children about sexuality?
Many people feel awkward or uncomfortable talking to their children about sexuality, but it is important to have these discussions with them from a young age, so they can grow up to make informed sexual decisions. Some discussions to consider include consent, the prevention of pregnancy and disease, and the relationship between sexuality and mental health. The conversations about sexuality and sexual health will depend on the age of your child, and on your family’s value systems.