Sexual Health and Promotion

Sexual health is a vital and integral part of your overall health and well-being throughout your life, integrating the emotional, physical, cognitive and social aspects of sexuality.

Our attitudes about sexuality and our ability to understand and accept our own sexuality are essential aspects of who we are and how we interact with our world. Comfort and acceptance of our sexuality directly affects our ability to make healthy choices and to respect the choices of others.

Healthy sexuality involves much more than avoiding negative outcomes, such as sexually transmitted infections (STI) (also known as sexually transmitted diseases) and unintended pregnancies. It involves acquiring the skills, knowledge and behaviours to maintain good sexual and reproductive health throughout life.

Being unsure about your sexual identity or being unable to disclose it to people you care about can create enormous emotional and psychological stresses. These stresses can result in an increased risk for addictions, mental health problems and poorer sexual health, including an increased risk for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.

What Can You Do?

Sexual health should be maintained as you would any other aspect of your health, such as nutrition or active living. Consider the following:

  • Educate yourself, ask questions and make informed decisions;
  • Learn how to protect yourself against STIs;
  • Practice safer sex;
  • Expect respect for yourself and respect the choices of others; don't judge;
  • Seek help if you are being forced or coerced into sexual activity;
  • Have regular medical check-ups and, if you're a woman, pap smears;
  • Find out if you are at risk for STIs and get tested;
  • Talk to your children; and
  • Stay current with new knowledge and research (for health professionals)

What Information is Available?

Health Canada promotes healthy sexuality by making information based on current scientific research, readily available through publications, promotional resources, links, policies and guidelines.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. If you feel you need medical advice, please consult your health professional.

For individual medical advice and health care services, the Provincial and Territorial Health Line Telephone Numbers provide information and support to Canadians.

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