Why is Sexual Health Important?

Sexual health is so important – and it's more than just avoiding unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Sexual health is vital to the overall health of both you and your community as it encompasses many aspects of emotional, social, mental, and physical welfare involving sexual relationships and sexuality.

We're a sex-positive pharmacy that believes that everyone should take care of their sexual health to protect their long-term health, and we'll give you multiple reasons why in this article. But before we delve into the importance of sexual health, let's look at what exactly sexual health is.

What is Sexual Health?

There are multiple definitions of sexual health within particular economic, political, and economic circumstances. However, it almost always revolves around contraception, intimacy, family planning, relationships, and STIs.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual health is:

'a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing 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.'

Simply put, this just means that sexual health is the ability to physically, mentally, and socially enjoy your sexuality which also involves taking good care of your body.

Besides that, good sexual health requires the following:

  • Access to high-quality, wide-ranging information and resources about sex, sexuality, and sexual health;
  • Access to safe sexual health care;
  • Setting boundaries in your relationships;
  • Access to an environment that supports and promotes sexual health;
  • Respecting your sexual rights and that of others;
  • STI awareness;
  • Making informed decisions about sex;
  • Communicating openly about your sexual health and needs with health professionals and partners

Elements of Sexual Health

According to the WHO, there are vital sexual health elements which should be championed, which we've listed here:

  • Sexual health involves acceptance and freedom from bias and violence.
  • Gender norms, beliefs, roles, and power dynamics impact sexual health.
  • Sexual health is vital throughout an individual's lifespan – from young to old.
  • Individuals can express sexual health through different sexualities and sexual expressions.
  • Specific human rights are directly connected to sexual health

Now that we have discussed all that sexual health is, let's look at some sexual health-related issues.

A list of sexual transmitted issues and infections

The issues that affect sexual health are include sexual expression, sexual orientation, gender identity, and relationships as well as infections.

Highlighted below are a few of them.

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs);
  • Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIs);
  • Gynecologic issues, like premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease;
  • Unplanned pregnancy;
  • Urinary system issues, like urinary tract infections;
  • Abortion;
  • Sexual dysfunction, like painful intercourse and erectile dysfunction;
  • Infertility issues;
  • Sexual violence;
  • Birth control;
  • Harmful practices, like FGM (Female Genital Mutilation);

Reasons Why Sexual Health is Important

We really can't stress the importance of sexual health enough, especially its link to your overall wellbeing. Sexual health encompasses your physical, emotional, mental, and social welfare regarding sex and sexuality, which means good sexual health will affect your overall health in a great way. Here's why you should take care of your sexual health.

  • Safety

Sexual health enables individuals to understand and engage in safe sex practices while understanding the risks involved with sexual intercourse. This will allow you to prevent unplanned pregnancies and STIs and protect yourself from sexual abuse.

While abstinence is the most basic and surest way to prevent STIs and unplanned pregnancies, it should be your choice to engage in sexual activities if you wish to. For sexually active people, different contraception techniques will ensure your safety, like the pill, patch, IUD, implant, diaphragm, ring, and condoms.

While the hormonal methods (pill, patch, implants, etc.) are great for women who want better control over their sexual health, they are only effective for preventing pregnancy, unlike condoms which also protect you from STIs.

Additionally, we recommend seeing your dorctor (or speaking to our pharamcist) or a sexual health clinic before you start having sex to make sure you have all the information you require about sexual health.

Sexual health also reduces your sexual risk by informing you about harmful and healthy sexual practices, enabling you to take better care of your body. When you understand what is healthy and what is potentially harmful, it will be harder for you to be coerced into doing something you are uncomfortable with.

Even though there is no explicit way of preventing sexual abuse, knowing and enforcing sexual boundaries helps individuals protect themselves.

  • Communication

Communication is an essential component of sexual health, as you have to be able to communicate your questions, concerns, and needs openly with your doctor or partner. The more open you are with your health professional, the more they will be able to provide you with the best care. Plus, lying to your doctor does you more harm than good – we promise they'll never judge.

You must strongly communicate your boundaries, expectations, and needs to your partner while respecting theirs. A sexually healthy person will be more comfortable being honest with their partner as they understand the overall importance of their relationship.

Don't anyone pressure you into anything. It's critical that you only do what you've consented to. You should have clear boundaries that you must ensure your partner understands and respects. Besides, communication is also vital for sexual health issues like STIs, infertility, gynecologic issues, and infertility problems, as it enables you to be completely honest with your partner.

  • Education

While sex education is taught in a handful of schools across the world, sexual health involves access to high-quality, wide-ranging information and resources about sex, sexuality, and sexual health.

This might mean taking your sexual education into your hands to make sure you have all the information required to protect yourself while learning about your sexual preferences. Additionally, the more informed you are about sex and all things related, the fewer risks you'll take.

  • Emotions

Sexual health lets you know more about your right to protect your body and emotions. This way, you will ensure that no one discriminates against you because of your sexual preferences.

You also have a right to say no if you are not comfortable, and it's easy to communicate with your partner from an emotional context.

  • Mental Wellbeing

Apart from physical health, sexual health incorporates emotional and mental health. Your sexual choices are yours to make, and it is vital that you make the ones that you are entirely comfortable with.

The only way you can do this is by understanding your body and sexuality while finding different ways to protect yourself sexually.

This will help you appreciate sex better, make informed sexual health choices, and strengthen your relationship with your partner.


  • What should I do if I get an STI?

Visit your general practitioner (GP) or a nearby sexual health clinic if you suspect you may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

The majority of STIs are curable or manageable, but it's crucial to have any symptoms tested as soon as possible.

  • When should I visit a genitourinary medicine clinic (GUM) or sexual health clinic?

If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, see a GUM or sexual health clinic.

In women:

  • bleeding during or after sex
  • bleeding between periods
  • discomfort during sex
  • pain in your lower abdomen
  • yellow or green discharge from your vagina, or discharge that smells

In men:

  • discharge from the penis
  • testicular discomfort

Wrapping It Up

As we mentioned earlier, sexual health is more than just preventing pregnancies and STIs; it benefits your overall wellbeing from your mental, social, physical, and emotional health.

Taking care of your sexual health will enable you to understand how to set boundaries in your relationships, communicate openly about your needs, take control of your body, make informed decisions, protect your long-term health, ensure sexual safety, and respect other people’s views.

Additionally, sexual health isn't for only those within a specific age group – it's a lifelong commitment to ensuring you enjoy yourself sexually, regardless of your age.

Written by Natasha Edwards