Sexual and reproductive health

WHO and HRP celebrate World Sexual Health Day

4 September 2017: Sexual health is fundamental to all people’s health and happiness. When we can enjoy good sexual health, it has a positive impact on many aspects of our lives including our reproductive health and well-being. This in turn has a positive impact on our societies and countries.

Picture of couple holding hands
Photo: Alex Van

New framework

“The new WHO-HRP framework is unprecedented. Sexual health is so much more than the absence of disease, and we need to work together across sectors to reach all people throughout their lives with interventions that are effective.”

Dr Ian Askew, Director of WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP

On the occasion of World Sexual Health Day 2017, WHO and HRP are launching a new WHO framework for operationalizing sexual health and its linkages to reproductive health. This new model highlights the many areas where people’s sexual health must be safeguarded throughout the course of their lives – as well as the way in which sexual health and reproductive health are at once distinct and inextricably linked.

Global celebration

On the 4th September every year, WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research including HRP, joins people and organizations worldwide in celebrating World Sexual Health Day. The theme of this year’s event is ‘love, bonding and intimacy’ to reflect on the joyful aspects of sharing our own sexual health and sexuality with someone we love or with people we choose.

An evolving history

WHO has a working definition of sexual health which continues to evolve. In its earliest iteration forty years ago, this definition was rooted in a positive approach to sexuality, with attention to pleasure, and the enrichment and expression of human relationships – as well as the human right to information for all people to help realise their sexual health.

In 1994, at the International Conference on Population and Development, sexual health was defined as a subset of reproductive health. A decade later, WHO’s Reproductive health strategy identified ‘promoting sexual health’ as one of 5 core aspects of reproductive and sexual health. Since this time, WHO has advanced discussions of sexual health, and has advocated for an understanding which encompasses and also transcends people’s fertility capacity and status.

Read new commentary for more detailed insights