Promoting sexual health is integral to overall well-being, as outlined in the Declaration for Sexual Rights by the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS, 2014). This statement underscores the importance of viewing sexuality holistically, encompassing physical, emotional, mental, and social aspects. Recognizing sexuality as a universal human right advocates for positive and respectful attitudes towards sexual experiences, free from coercion and discrimination. Given the prevalence of sexual dysfunctions, integrating sexual health into mental healthcare is imperative.

The relationship between mental health and sexual well-being is multifaceted. While physical ailments like injuries and chronic conditions can impact sexual function, psychological factors also play a significant role. Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder can affect aspects of sexuality, including desire and arousal. Additionally, medications used to treat mental health conditions, like SSRIs, may lead to sexual side effects, underscoring the importance of transparent communication with healthcare providers.

Addressing Psychological Impact on Sexuality

Certain mental health conditions directly influence sexuality. Anxiety about sexual performance can contribute to issues like erectile dysfunction, while past experiences of sexual abuse may result in conditions like PTSD and substance abuse. Coping with sexual dysfunction can be challenging, often leading to psychological distress and strain on interpersonal relationships.

Overcoming Barriers to Sexual Health Improvement

A significant barrier to improving sexual health is the lack of professionals trained to address these concerns. Despite the prevalence of sexual issues, sexology education for mental health professionals remains insufficient globally. Integrating basic sexology training into mental health education is essential for addressing the complex interactions between mental and sexual health.

In conclusion, enhancing overall well-being necessitates recognizing and addressing the intricate relationship between mental health and sexual function. Seeking support from trained professionals is a proactive step towards achieving a healthier and more fulfilling sexual life.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Seray Soyman is working as a Clinical Psychosexologist within the Willingness team, providing psychosexual education and sexual support sessions, as well as delivering training and workshops. She has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychosexology from the Sapienza University of Rome. Seray’s research interests are sexual communication, sex-positive behaviour, LGBTQIA+ studies, and sexual health.