Sexual health and its linkages to reproductive health: an operational approach

Posted by Maria Codina on September 19, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Sexual health and reproductive health are closely linked, but crucial aspects of sexual health can be overlooked when grouped under or together with the domain of reproductive health. In order to create broader awareness of comprehensive sexual health interventions and to ensure that sexual health and reproductive health both receive full attention in programming (including provision of health services) and research, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reviewed its working definition of sexual health to create a framework for an operational approach to sexual health. The framework, which is intended to support policy-makers and programme implementers and to provide a stronger foundation for further research and learning in sexual health, is presented and described in full in this brief.

WHO has a working definition of sexual health which continues to evolve. In its earliest iteration forty years ago, this definition was rooted in a positive approach to sexuality, with attention to pleasure, and the enrichment and expression of human relationships – as well as the human right to information for all people to help realise their sexual health.

In 1994, at the International Conference on Population and Development, sexual health was defined as a subset of reproductive health. A decade later, WHO’s Reproductive health strategy identified ‘promoting sexual health’ as one of 5 core aspects of reproductive and sexual health. Since this time, WHO has advanced discussions of sexual health, and has advocated for an understanding which encompasses and also transcends people’s fertility capacity and status.

Please find the link to download the framework developed by World Health Organization and Human Reproduction Programme -Research for Impact, here.


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