Sexual health

Content last reviewed: May 2017


The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines good sexual health as ‘a state of emotional, mental and social wellbeing related to sexuality, not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction and infirmity’. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of individuals with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and the identification and treatment of infected sexual partners (partner notification), reduces the duration of infection, the likelihood of infecting others and of the possible complications of untreated infections.  Unintended pregnancies and STIs can have a long lasting impact upon people’s lives; good sexual health is important to individuals and society therefore being able to access the right support and services and promoting good sexual health is essential (DH, 2013).

Building upon the first National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV (DH, 2001), A Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England was launched in March 2013. The Governments ambition for this framework is to improve the sexual health and wellbeing of the whole population by:

  • reducing inequalities and improving sexual health outcomes
  • building an honest and open culture where everyone is able to make informed and responsible choices about relationships and sex; and
  • recognising that sexual ill health can affect all parts of society. (DH 2013)

Last updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017