Looking after your sexual health is not only about avoiding an STI or unplanned pregnancy. It's also about your right to respectful sexual relationships, access to reliable information and freedom from any form of coercion, violence, or stigma. Understanding sexual health, and knowing your rights, can help keep you as safe and healthy as possible.
According to the current World Health Organisation (WHO) working definition, sexual health is:
“…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. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”
- (WHO, 2006a)
Like most things in life, there is no guarantee that sex will ever be 100% safe. There are things that you can do, however, that can make it safer for you and your sexual partners. These include: