Sexual health is just one part of the bigger health picture. There are lots of components to health – both physical and emotional, and lots of ways that we look after health every day.
Healthy Respect supports the World Health Organisation’s idea of sexual health. They say it’s not just about steering clear of infections or unwanted pregnancy (though those are important), but also about the right to safe, happy sexual experiences, free from pressure, coercion or harm.
This is the case whether you are male, female or trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight.
So, being sexually healthy is about having safe and respectful relationships, and not having to do anything sexually that you don’t want to. Being emotionally OK is a really important part of sexual health too. This means feeling good about your sexual experiences, and not regretting anything that’s happened.
For more on emotional wellbeing, see Relationships and
Feelings and emotions
Sexuality is unique and different for every individual. It is about all the things that influence how you are as a sexual being, and much more than just your sexual orientation (who you fancy).
Sexuality is unique and different for every individual.
Everyone has a right to their sexuality, and to express it (in a safe and legal way). This is true regardless of your age, gender, ability, sexual orientation, religion or beliefs, race or ethnicity, and if you decide to be celibate (not have sex).
Your sexuality is yours and yours alone. It can change over time and can be shaped and influenced by all the following things:
your self image (for example, how you see yourself, your body image, your self-esteem)
your social relationships (for example, family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners)
your senses (for example, sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell)
your emotions (for example, desire, jealousy, pleasure, anger, intimacy)
your spirituality (for example, beliefs, religion, values, your sense of self)
your political identity (for example, if you have ever faced stigma or discrimination)
your sexual practices (for example, celibacy, sex with a partner, masturbation)
Understanding your own sexuality is one way of feeling sexually healthy. This might not always be easy though! If you are ever confused, worried or upset abut your sexuality for any reason, there are places you can go for confidential advice and support. Go the Address book for a list of places you can go.
Physical sexual health
Keeping physically sexually healthy is another aspect of sexual health. This most often means not becoming unwell (e.g. with an STI) or becoming pregnant when you did not want to. You can find out more about ways to keep yourself physically healthy on other pages of this site. See Condoms and contraception and