Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 33 (3), 189-95

Defining Sexual Health: A Descriptive Overview


Defining Sexual Health: A Descriptive Overview

Weston M Edwards et al. Arch Sex Behav.


This paper examines the historical events that have contributed to evolving definitions of sexual health. Through a review of the literature, eight definitions of sexual health were identified from the original 1975 World Health Organization (WHO) definition up until the most recent definition in 2002. Each of these definitions is reviewed for the context in which they were developed and the particular contributions they have played in the development of the understanding of sexual health. The more recent definitions have built upon the essential elements provided in the original WHO definition but have added concepts of mental health, responsibility, and sexual rights. Although similarities exist in the definitions, they are not all alike. The importance of defining sexual health in the discussion of promoting sexual health is illustrated. The concept and definition of sexual health will continue to evolve shaped by historical events.

Similar articles

  • Sexual Health: A Useful Public Health Paradigm or a Moral Imperative?
    TG Sandfort et al. Arch Sex Behav 33 (3), 181-7. PMID 15129037.
    The past decade has shown an increasing use of the concept of sexual health. This upsurge is especially noticeable not only in the field of health education and promotion …
  • Nonvolitional Sex and Sexual Health
    D Kalmuss. Arch Sex Behav 33 (3), 197-209. PMID 15129039. - Review
    Nonvolitional sex is sexual behavior that violates a person's right to choose when and with whom to have sex and what sexual behaviors to engage in. The more extreme form …
  • [Approaches to HIV/AIDS Prevention]
    D Cianciara. Przegl Epidemiol 59 (1), 147-54. PMID 16013420. - Review
    The author describes approaches to HIV/AIDS prevention, especially prevention of HIV sexual transmission. Distinction is done to biomedical, behavioural, societal, gender …
  • Sexual Health: The Emergence, Development, and Diversity of a Concept
    A Giami. Annu Rev Sex Res 13, 1-35. PMID 12836728. - Review
    The concept of sexual health, which was developed at a 1975 conference of the World Health Organization (WHO), is currently being used to set up nationally based public h …
  • Sex Education as Health Promotion: What Does It Take?
    HP Schaalma et al. Arch Sex Behav 33 (3), 259-69. PMID 15129044. - Review
    Health promotion should be evidence-based, needs driven, subject to evaluation, and ecological in perspective. How can this be achieved in the context of school-based sex …
See all similar articles

Cited by 21 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

LinkOut - more resources