Key definitions



Sex

“Sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male. While these sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, they tend to differentiate humans as males and females.” 

 

Sexual health

 “…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

 

Sexuality

Sexuality provides the framework from which sexual health is defined, understood and operationalised. Sexuality is:

 

“…a central aspect of being human throughout life encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”

 

(From the world Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/sexual_health/sh_definitions/en/)

Further reading and resources



  • Gott, M., 2005. Sexuality, sexual health and ageing. England: Open University Press.

 

  • Age UK has useful advice on dating and sex in its Relationships and Family section

          http://www.ageuk.org.uk/health-wellbeing/relationships-and-family/guide-to-dating/

 

  • Ageing and Sexual health. Entre Nous: The European Magazine for Sexual and Reproductive Health

          http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/183448/Entre-Nous-77-Eng.pdf

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein