The American Health Association defines sexual health as the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality, according to the World Health Organization, 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.
Being sexually healthy means:
- Understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behavior.
- Recognizing and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
- Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
- Making an effort to prevent unintended pregnancies and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) and seek care and treatment when needed.
- Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired.
- Being able to communicate about sexual health with others including sexual partners and healthcare providers.
Sexual health has been recognized as a key strategy in promoting overall health and well-being, including:
- Family Planning
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/AIDS
- Reproductive Health
- Sexual Risk Behavior
Talking to a healthcare provider about your sexual health can be intimidating. You might feel embarrassed about the questions that you have; you might not want to admit to certain feelings or fears about your health. However, being able to talk to your healthcare provider about your physical health as it relates to your sexual health is crucial.
District Health Department #10’s Family Planning Program provides high quality reproductive health care to women, men, and teens at low or no-cost. Family Planning is a public health service that helps individuals and families plan for their desired family size and spacing of children or to prevent an undesired pregnancy. Find the following at DHD#10;
- Information on birth control and sexual health
- Help choosing the birth control method that best fits your life
- Help planning a healthy pregnancy when you want a baby
- Pregnancy testing and counseling
- Testing and treatment for STIs
- Preventive health exams to screen for cancer or other health issues
- Services are charged based on your ability to pay
- You can use your insurance, including Medicaid
A happy and healthy sex life starts by getting tested. Yes, STI testing is also an important part of sexual health. People with multiple sexual partners, those who think they may have been exposed, those who’ve had unprotected sex with a partner whose health status was unknown, or anyone who has symptoms of an STI, should definitely get tested.
- More than 1 million STIs are acquired every day worldwide.
- Each year, there are an estimated 357 million new infections with 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
- More than 290 million women have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection1.
- The majority of STIs have no symptoms or only mild symptoms that may not be recognized as an STI.
If you think you have an STI, first off, don’t panic. You should make an appointment to get tested right away and hold off on sexual activity until you get tested. To make an appointment call 888-217-3904, then select option #2. Upon result of your test, a nurse can discuss safe sex, treatment options, birth control, how to talk to your partner, and more. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
- HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2016, 1.0 million people died from HIV-related causes globally.
- 54% of adults and 43% of children living with HIV are currently receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART).
- Global ART coverage for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV is high at 76% .
- Key populations are groups who are at increased risk of HIV irrespective of epidemic type or local context. They include: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons and other closed settings, sex workers and their clients, and transgender people.
- There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can control the virus and help prevent transmission so that people with HIV, and those at substantial risk, can enjoy healthy, long and productive lives.
At DHD#10 you can get confidential testing for STIs and HIV. Testing is available to anyone, including teens, at low or no-cost (cost is based on income). DHD#10 can bill your insurance to cover the cost of service as well. Services at DHD#10 are LGBTQ friendly.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
DHD#10 – Sexual Health
ASHA – Working Towards Sexual Health Promotion
BeforePlay – Clinic Locator
WHO – STIs Fact Sheet
WHO – Gender and Human Rights – Sexual Health
CDC – Unintended Pregnancy Prevention
CDC – Reproductive Health
CDC – Sexual Risk Behaviors