‘Sexual health is the integration of the somatic, emotional, mental and social aspects of sexual being, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love’ (World Health Organization)
So if sexual health is made up of all these facets what can cause sexual difficulties?
- Prescribed or recreational medicine
- Illness including diabetes, hypertension, chronic illness
- Bodily changes like, menopause, pregnancy, menstruation
- Surgery especially when it effects a ‘sexual organ’: breast, uterus, prostate
- Relationship with partner might not be going well or be dysfunctional
- Different life stages: Having young children, the beginning of a new relationship, midlife changes, old age.
- Physical context: living with parents, lack of privacy and comfort
- Culture, religion, familial attitudes towards sex
- Sexual beliefs and sexual orientation
- Physical or emotional pain related to birth, infertility and miscarriage.
- Traumatic experience: Including physical and sexual abuse
All the above can contribute to sexual and intimacy issues and it is extremely important that the individual and/or couple look into areas which can be effecting their sexual health.
Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org