Sexual Health

Sexual health refers to the physical, emotional, and social well-being related to sexuality. It includes freedom from disease and dysfunction and requires a positive approach to sexual relationships.

Sexual Health Overview

Reviewed: May 22, 2014

Sexual health encompasses a wide range of public health and clinical issues, but it generally refers to a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being related to sexuality. It includes the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity, and it requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships. It also allows the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences that are free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.

Sexuality is part of being human. Love, affection, and intimacy are important for healthy relationships from childhood through old age. Sexual health is as important as physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. Achieving sexual health allows for healthy relationships, planned pregnancies, disease prevention, and an overall sense of well-being.

It is essential to be well informed about all aspects of sexual health and what it takes to have a fulfilling sex life. It is also important to be aware of factors that can complicate your sexual health. Discuss concerns or ask questions of your doctor or other health care providers if you need advice or counseling about your sexual health.

Sexual Health Symptoms

Sexual health is an important aspect of any person’s health, whether you are trying to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections or you are worried about low sex drive or other sexual health problems.

Several factors can affect sexual health, including:

  • fear of unplanned pregnancy
  • concerns about infertility
  • erectile dysfunction in men
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease
  • medicines that affect sexual desire or performance

Discuss your complete medical history with your doctor and ask how your conditions or medicines may affect your sexual or reproductive health.

Sexual Health Causes

Sexual health is important in all stages of life, and an active interest in sex, as well as satisfaction with the frequency and quality of sexual activity, is positively associated with health in later life.

Physical changes due to aging, illness, disabilities and some medicines can make sex challenging or difficult to enjoy. Fortunately, many resources are available to help adults achieve a satisfying sex life.

Sexual Health Diagnosis

If you are experiencing pain during sex or sexual dysfunction, seek help from your healthcare provider. He or she will obtain a medical history, conduct a physical exam, and perform blood or laboratory tests to diagnose or rule out physical causes of your symptoms. Sometimes, psychologists or counselors can assist in identifying the causes of sexual dysfunction or changes in performance.

Ask your healthcare provider how often you should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases or screened for reproductive- and sex-related conditions.

Living With Sexual Health

Maintaining your sexual health is as important as maintaining your physical, mental, and spiritual health.

  • Be aware of your body and notice any changes related to your sexual health.
  • Communicate with your sex partner and with your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns you have related to your sexuality.
  • Prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies.
  • Access sexual health information and educate yourself about your body.

Sexual Health Treatments

If sexual health problems are due to physical issues, treatments may be available. For example, lubricants can improve symptoms of vaginal dryness and hormone therapy or natural supplements may help to improve your desire for sex.

Sexual Health Other Treatments

Sexual Health Prognosis