What is healthy sexual behaviour?
Healthy sexual behaviour is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the following:
- The enjoyment of sexual relations without exploitation, oppression or abuse.
- Safe pregnancy and childbirth, and avoidance of unintended pregnancies.
- Absence and avoidance of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) including HIV.
Unhealthy sexual behaviour is deviance from any of these 3 points. The consequences of poor sexual health are many and can have serious effects on an and individual as well as on a relationship. Over the past 10 years, studies have shown that there have been dramatic increases in many STI’s, as much as up to 300% in infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and HIV.
Studies have also shown that people are having sex at a younger age, and many more people have multiple sex partners than 10 years ago, putting themselves at risk of STI’s.
How poor sexual health can affect your health
Here are some factors how your general health can be affected by sexually transmitted infections:
- HIV attacks the body’s immune system which makes you prone to infections. It is also known as a precursor to aids and makes your risk of developing aids, extremely high.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a serious infection that is transmitted sexually during unprotected sex. It is a major cause of cervical cancer which takes the lives of many women, mainly because it is difficult to detect. It also does not always show up in an ordinary pap smear test.
- Chlamydia is a bacterial infection also transmitted sexually, which often has no symptoms and is not diagnosed or treated very early. This may lead to a pelvic inflammatory disease which is a high risk for adverse fertility issues. If you have more than one sexual partner and do not use condoms, get regular testing at the doctor.
- Herpes simplex is the most prolific, and easiest STI to contract from unprotected sex. It is mainly characterised by vaginal sores in women, and also by sores in the genital area of men, including the anus and the penis. There are actually many strains of the herpes virus, and unless treated, can lead to serious infections in the genital areas. Studies have also revealed that the herpes virus has also been found in prostate cancer cells, but there is no definite proof that the two may be linked.
In addition to the immediate effects of STI’s, there seems to be a stigma of shame or embarrassment attached, which prevents some people from going for tests or informing their partners. This can only lead to further transmissions of the infection.
Examples of high-risk sexual behaviour
- Unprotected sex without a condom.
- Starting sex at a young age, without knowledge of the dangers of genital herpes.
- Having multiple sex partners without knowing any of their history, or other issues.
- Unprotected oral sex.
- May not be aware of STI symptoms.
Some young people are under the impression that if they are on the pill to prevent pregnancy, the pill will also prevent STI’s. This idea is absolutely erroneous, and must surely lead to many unnecessary transmissions of infections.
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