Sexual health

Sexual health, as defined by the World Health Organisation, is 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 or violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.

Sexual health is an important aspect of overall health - whether you choose to be abstinent or are thinking of having sex or you are currently sexually active.

Maintaining good sexual health mean understanding your sexuality, speaking to your partner, making decisions such as birth control and protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

It also involves negotiating with your partner and being aware of your sexual rights.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for an informed discussion with a health care professional.

Make an appointment with the Student Health Service to find out more about your sexual health.

Thinking of having sex

Here are a few things to consider if you are thinking about becoming sexually active.


Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and 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, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.

Speaking to your partner

After you have sorted out your own feelings about sex, discuss them openly with your partner. Remember not to feel pressured when making this big decision-not everyone is having sex. There is less harm done by waiting than by rushing into a sexual relationship too soon.

When deciding whether or not you want to have sex, it is important to feel confident that you are not putting yourself at risk of contracting a STI. You have the right to ask your partner questions about her/his sexual history. Approach these questions with your partner sensitively.

Birth control options

These include:

It's best to speak to your doctor and discuss these options. More information on birth control options is available at the Student Health Service.

The University also has a free condom distribution program designed to support you in navigating safer sexual practices. Order now through the Condom Fairy.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are commonly transmitted through sexual activity. Many STIs have no symptoms and can remain undetected without testing. Most STIs can be easily cured. Some that are incurable can be controlled. STIs require medical treatment.

Because most STIs have no symptoms they are easily and unintentionally passed from partner to partner. It is very important for your health and the health of your partner(s) that you have regular check up with your doctor.

Sexual rights

Sexual rights embrace human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus statements. They include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to:

The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others.

Further links on sex and sexual health

Archive for sexology

Multi lingual archive which offers free online courses in sexual health, WHO reports, and an online library on sexology.

Sexuality information on the web

Links to full text articles on sexuality, sexuality and gender, Birth control, Women and Mens rights, LGBT issues, and educational resources.

About sex

Sexuality and you

Men and women sexual health

Sexual health for men

The Male Health Center was the first center in the United States specializing in male health. The center was created because there was a need to provide men with an integrated system of care that addressed all their needs.

Womens health information

The Royal Women's Hospital. A free, confidential service for all women offering advice, support and referral. The service recognises that women's health and well-being may be affected by social, emotional and cultural influences.

When love hurts

Being in love is supposed to feel great. But sometimes it just feels confusing. What can you do if you are being hurt, controlled or treated badly in a relationship?

Some facts about sexual health

Are you ready for sex: Common questions to ask yourself