Sexual health is a vital part of overall health and well-being throughout the life-course. In order to achieve the best possible health outcomes, good sexual health and positive attitudes toward one’s sexuality are crucial. This includes ensuring that:
- Kids and parents have access to accurate, comprehensive information that reflects their diverse needs and realities, and is provided in an age-appropriate, culturally-sensitive and respectful manner that is fully inclusive of gender diversity.
- All those who are sexually active know how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STI) and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
- Conversations with health care providers about sexual health continue as adults age, including risks of STI and how to prevent them.
- Patients of all ages can access health care in a safe, trusted and non-judgmental setting where they can talk openly and comfortably to their health care providers.
It is essential that we work to promote sexual health at all stages of life, especially through efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination and to break down barriers that limit access to effective testing, treatment and care. A concerted effort is needed given that we are continuing to see increasing rates of STI among youth, young adults and older Canadians.
As we begin Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week (February 11-15, 2019), I invite you to reflect on the importance of considering sexual health as not only avoiding negative outcomes, but also acquiring the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to maintain good sexual and reproductive health throughout life.