We all know that food, shelter, and water are the basic biological needs for a human being. Sex is another need that holds an equally important place in this list, especially with adults. Affection, sexual intimacy, and love contribute to healthy relationships and individual wellbeing.
But along with the positive elements of it, there are also many unintended consequences, mixed emotions, and illnesses that can affect our sexual health. An open discussion of sexual issues is essential for promoting responsibility and sexual health.
Even in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, in the bottom of the pyramid, the physiological needs include this need. But how comfortable are people talking about sexual health? To understand that, we need to know what are the different elements in sexual health.
What Is The Meaning Of Sexual Health?
Sexual health relates to the many factors that impact sexual reproduction and function. These include a variety of mental, emotional and physical factors. Disorders that are affecting any of these factors can change a ‘person’s emotional and physical health, as well as her or his relationships and self-image.
Sexual health is a state of wellbeing in relation to sexuality across the life span that involves mental, social, emotional, spiritual and physical dimensions.
Sexual health is an essential element of human health and is based on equitable, respectful and a positive approach to relationships, reproduction, and sexuality, that is free of fear, discrimination stigma, violence, shame, and coercion.
It also involves the ability to understand the risks, responsibilities, and benefits of sexual behavior; the care and prevention of other adverse outcomes and disease; and the possibility of fulfilling sexual relationships.
Sexual health is impacted by cultural and socioeconomic and cultural contexts including policies, practices, and services that support healthy outcomes for individuals, families, and their communities.
In the last 10 years, there has been increasing attention to the importance of addressing the topic of sexual health. More and more sexual health awareness can reduce the statistics of people suffering from sexual health diseases.
The best way to do this is by having proper communication about the concerns related to sex be it diseases, conditions or relationships. A stronger importance given to these aspects will bring about a more crucial change in this subject.
It should be considered that “sexual health” is a concept undergoing evolution, not only in its definition but also in its practical request.
The term usually includes a focus on wellness and health rather than a disease, an appreciation for the intrinsic importance of sexual health within the framework of overall health
How Much Do People Talk About Sexual Wellbeing?
Sexuality and sex are central parts of people’s lives, and it’s vital that everyone can access the education, services, and information they need to make informed choices about their relationships and sexual health, including choosing whether and who to have sex and when to have sex with.
Sexual health and discussions often only focus on the prevention of unplanned pregnancy and infection, which are necessary but can be adverse if they exclude discussion or acknowledgment of sexual pleasure.
Sexuality is not only just a vehicle for reproduction and people should enjoy the sex as the fundamental aspect of their one’s wellbeing.
Since the World Health Organization(WHO) has placed more attention on sexual health more than 25 years ago. WHO has declared: “There exist fundamental rights for the individual, including freedom from diseases, deficiencies and organic disorders that interfere with reproductive and sexual function.”
Anyhow, challenges to achieve this vision remain. In different cases, the underlying reasons for sexual disorders continue to be poorly understood, and, in many cases, few treatment choices are available.
The unwillingness of individuals to talk about their sexual problems may be the most significant barrier to achieve the ‘WHO’s a vision of sexual health and to promoting responsible sexual behavior. It is essential to address your sexual health issues with your health care partner and physician.
The Family Planning Association is one of the most important organizations that focus on the importance of sexual health and provides various measures and treatments to curb the issues related to sexual issues.
It recognizes that for some people, sexuality is ignored and marginalized. This can be the case for people with or long – term illness or disabilities or older people.
Family Planning Association wants to support the establishment of a society in which everyone can enjoy their sexual health free from harm and prejudice.
FPA is committed to promoting acceptance and greater recognition of the variety of ways in which people express their sexuality. Equally, we encourage acceptance and acknowledgment of everyone’s right to express and enjoy their sexuality regardless of age, ability, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or culture.
Certain fields that affect the openness of talking about sex openly include sexual pleasure, the importance of sex education, social conventions and the narrow perception of sexuality.
Sexual Pleasure Is Central To Sexual Wellbeing
An honest and open culture, in which sexuality is accepted and celebrated, benefits individuals strengthen relationships and foster an open and tolerant society.
On an individual level, sex and sexual pleasure be beneficial to physical and mental health. Research also demonstrates that sexual activity can be advantageous to the immune system. Relationships and sexual intimacy may lower blood pressure, improve sleep and decrease stress.
A review of heterosexual, monogamous couples found that open communication about sex leads to higher satisfaction in relationships.
Importance Of Sex Education
Sex education is the instruction of problems relating to human sexuality, including emotional responsibilities and relations, human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, age of consent, reproductive health, safe sex, reproductive rights, sexual abstinence, and birth control.
Sex education that applies all of these aspects is called comprehensive sex education. Common avenues for sex education are caregivers or parents, public health campaigns and formal school programs.
Conventionally, teens in many cultures were not given any information on sexual matters, with the discussion of these issues being taken into account taboo. Such instruction, as was given, was usually left to a child’s parents, and often this was put off until just before a child’s wedding.
Sexually transmitted diseases are increasing at an overwhleming rate all around the world. As part of each country’s efforts to reduce unwanted teen pregnancies, alarmingly spreading sexuallyy transmitted diseases and the emotional imbalance in young adults due to issues related to sex, programs of sex education were introduced, initially over strong opposition from parent and religious groups.
The burst of AIDS has given a new sense of hurry to sex education. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare consider that full sex education programs have benefits, such as the advancement of women’s rights, controlling the risk of overpopulation and protecting the citizens of India from such diseases which hold very less awareness with a good fifty percent of the population.
The use of mass media engages sometimes resulted in high levels of “awareness” coupled with a most superficial knowledge of HIV transmission.
While certain health conditions can affect the reproductive capacity and libido, many people still need and want intimacy, or have sexual desires, as they get older.
Social Conventions Make It Hard To Speak About Their Sexuality
The regular review revealed that older adults have the opinion that many people believe that they are asexual and so, they often feel sexually veiled. Society seems to value sexuality that blossoms in beauty and youth.
Older adults who internalize these norms and values are often ashamed of their bodies and are less likely to express their sexual desires and needs the fear of being excluded and judged.
Older adults also stated gender stereotypes that persist: older women expressing sexual desires appear to be subjected to wrong social judgments, unlike older men who see their sexuality authorized by the sale of drugs to improve their erectile abilities and allow them to “function normally.”
Gender matters have always been a concern considering the essentials in choices that encompass the initial sexual relation. The general stereotype about this aspect is because the perception of giving in themselves is universal among women concerning the act of sex, or conferring the value of such a step.
On the same lines, virginity is conceived as something “rare.” Moreover, where there is an urge to explore, the call for “self-preservation” is inflicted. On the other hand, the male point of view on this matter is quite the opposite. It is interpreted into two attitudes.
The first one being the sexual performance seen as a winning or victory that supports the power of masculinity. The second one is a romantic experience in which men seek to ‘perform themselves’ at the right moment to the right person.
Narrow Perception Of Sexuality
The World Health Organization defines sexuality as encompassing sex, roles and gender identities, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, reproduction, and intimacy.
Sexuality can be influenced by the communication of psychological, biological, social, economic, cultural, political, legal, ethical, historical, spiritual factors and religious. The last theme that appeared from the systematic review is that older adults usually, define sexuality narrowly as sexual intercourse.
The decrease or loss in sexual function can thus cause distress, frustration, disappointment, and despair among older adults when they fail to experience this known as “normal” sexuality.
However, older adults facing health problems that affect sexual function tend to adopt broader definitions of sexuality and sexual activity.
There are many various ways to express and to be intimate your sexuality. Some older adults may prefer not to engage in sexual activity, and that is also normal. Regardless of how you want to be intimate, here are a few things to keep in mind
- There are regular changes related to aging that may cause sexual problems, but some sexual issues are not associated with aging. Talk to your doctor when you are in doubt.
- Age does not protect your partner and you from sexually transmitted diseases. Take steps to protect yourself. Talk to your partner to better understand their desires and needs, and to explore the different facets of sexuality and intimacy.
Health Is Affected By Sexual Wellbeing
The systematic review also highlighted that fitness, not age, is what has a real influence on sexuality. Older adults who have certain health disorders or physical limitations reported having a lower ability to stay involved in sexual activity. Some may take drugs, which can alter their ability to enjoy and have sex.
Pleasure may play an important role in the successful working of the reproductive systems of humans. However, for all the pleasure sexual relationships can provide, there can be countervailing forces of guilt and dissatisfaction at work on the psyche of an individual.
Our religion and social norms impose limits on sexual expressiveness. The contrasting balance of possible pleasure on one side and deeply felt self-controls on the other can cause many sexual health problems. Couples with clashing expectations about sexual choices can find their relationships breaking.
Deeply planted understandings we talked earlier about inappropriate behavior can cause anyone to feel ashamed or fear when faced with decisions about their desires and sexuality.
People who are unable to achieve desired pleasures because of physical issues experience a lack of wellbeing that can be highly distressing.
Also, society unable to control the individual harmful sexual behavior such as heinous crimes like child molestation to protect the individual’s right to enjoy personal satisfaction.
The promotion and recognition of sexual pleasure as a crucial part of personal wellbeing is the most challenging elements on the agenda of sexual health in our country.
To make progress in this area, we will need extraordinary efforts by professional people and political leaders to form an understanding of the meaning of pleasure in our lives, and the advantage of promoting healthy sexuality as an agenda of global health
Some said that they were encountered by narrow and stereotypical views when they approached their doctors to talk about sexual issues. Not surprisingly, older adults who face these behaviors from their healthcare contributors feel that they do not receive appropriate care or counseling.
Although these are some issues that are fading out, everyone must look forward to being open about talking about this topic. After all, being well informed and getting as much information will be beneficial to our own health and wellbeing.
Let’s maintain the talking going. We all need to overcome the taboos about the sexual life of older people. Break such stereotypes to bring out better health opportunities to yourself and the people around you.