Sexual and Reproductive Health plays a major role in the wellbeing of individuals throughout their lives. Sexual health is defined as a state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. It is an integral aspect of an individual’s identity, social wellbeing, and personal health.
Sexual and reproductive health encompasses sex, reproduction, gender identities and roles, consent, sexual orientation, breast health, menopause, contraception, STI, unintended pregnancy, abortions, infertility, men’s health, and sexual dysfunction.
Sexuality is a central aspect of being human and education is required across the lifespan.
Most people will begin to get a sense of their own sexual orientation in childhood or as young adults when they start to have feelings of romantic or sexual attraction towards others. For some, being aware of their sexual orientation is clear from the beginning. For others, awareness of their sexual orientation may take more time.
There are different kinds of sexual orientation. A person may be:
Heterosexuality- Attraction between persons of opposite sex or gender
Homosexuality- Attraction between persons of the same sex or gender
Bisexuality- Attraction to both males and females
Pansexuality- Attraction to people of any sex or gender
Asexuality- Lack of sexual attraction to others
Remember: You are not alone
Whatever your orientation or gender identity, it’s important to realize that there are lots of people like you. Many of them have experienced or are experiencing the same emotions and questions that you have.
It’s helpful to talk to people who know what you’re going through. You can find these people through local or online groups. If you don’t know where to find support, check with:
- Your health care provider.
- Your school counsellor or trusted teacher.
- A therapist or other counsellor.
- LGBT2Q+ friends or relatives.
- LGBT2Q+ clubs and organizations in your community.
- Churches that welcome LGBT2Q+ members.
- Websites and online organizations.
Parents-Talking about Sexual Health
You are a role model for your child as well as a valuable and credible source of information. It’s important that the health information you share with them be based on the loving and trusting relationship you have. It’s important to talk to your child about sexual health as it will help your child to make healthy and informed decisions.
Condom – Male (external condom)
The male condom is a thin latex rubber or non-latex polyisoprene covering which is rolled onto an erect (hard) penis.
How does it work?
The male condom is worn on the penis during sex and provides a barrier that collects semen (fluid that contains sperm) and stops the transfer of fluids to a partner. This will reduce the risk of getting a STI (sexually transmitted infection). After sex, the condom is thrown away and a new one much be used each time you have sex.
Condom- Female (internal condom)
The female/internal condom is a soft, disposable, polyurethane sheath.
Female condoms line the vagina completely and provides a barrier which collects the semen (fluid that contains sperm) and blocks the transfer of fluids to a partner.
For more information please visit Sex and U
Birth control, also known as contraception, is used to prevent pregnancy. There are many different birth control methods available to you and your partner, but no method is ever 100% effective. Not all contraceptive methods work the same way and most have benefits and some downsides. It’s important to consider all types available and pick the one that’s best suited to you and your partner’s health and lifestyle.
For more information on different types of contraceptives please visit Sex and U
For a couple who was planning and trying to become pregnant, a positive pregnancy test may be welcomed news. It can also be unexpected. Any time there is sexual activity involving a male and female there is a possibility of pregnancy. Whether the pregnancy was planned or unplanned there are a lot of things you need to think about.
Menopause is the point in time when a woman has had no menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.
Perimenopause is the time period leading up to menopause and is characterized by fluctuating hormone levels.
While symptoms can occur earlier in life, most women experience perimenopause in their late 40s or early 50s. Symptoms include:
- Changes to your monthly cycle
- Your estrogen and progesterone production becomes unpredictable
- There is a decrease in the number of stored eggs in the ovaries.
No two women are the same and may experience menopause differently. Hormone fluctuations may lead to:
- Irregular periods
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Aches and pains in the joints
- Change in sexual desire
- Changes to skin texture and appearance
- Bladder control difficulty
- Vaginal fluid changes (dryness)
- Disruption of sleep patterns (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep)
- Mood swings
- Memory losses
Menopause and U
Consent is when one person agrees or gives permission to another person to do something. It means agreeing to something based on your knowledge and understanding of what’s involved, possible consequences and having the option of saying ‘no’.
Sex is an intimate act that is shared with someone that you trust. It is meant to be pleasurable for both you and your partner. It’s important that both you and your partner feel safe and comfortable every step of the way.
The only way to know if someone has given consent is if they tell you. It’s not always easy to let people know that you don’t want something to happen. The best way to know if someone is comfortable is to simply ask. Try saying:
- Are you okay with this?
- Is there anything you don’t want to do?
- Do you want to go further?
- Do you want to stop?
Sexual activity without consent (any activity involving touching, kissing, oral, vaginal, or anal sex) is against the law. When you are not prepared, or unable to consent to sex, there is an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infectious diseases that spread from one person to another through any type of sexual contact (oral, anal and vaginal sexual contact, skin-to-skin genital contact, and/or sharing sex toys).
Many STIs don’t show any obvious signs or symptoms and may go undetected. If left untreated, STIs can lead to long term health problems, like infertility, and may even cause death. Early detection may help reduce or avoid complications and can help minimize the spread of STIs to others.
Talk about STIs and safe sex with every partner. Make sure that you are up-to-date with vaccinations against hepatitis and HPV. Also, use condoms, and/or oral/dental dams to protect both you and your partner.
Testicular cancer is a frightening condition for men and their loved ones. Most often it is diagnosed in young men between the ages of 15-35 and who aren’t expecting to be faced with a cancer diagnosis. It is also one of the most curable cancers if detected early.
Most testicular cancers are first found by men themselves. Some are discovered by routine physical examination. It is important to know what is normal for you so that you can recognize when something may be wrong. If you notice any changes to your testicles, please speak with your health care professional.
More information can be found at: Testicular Cancer Canada
Each year, approximately 2400 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 1500 Canadian women die each year because of this disease. If found early and treated, the survival rate is as high as 90%.
You should see your family doctor if you have noticed one or more of these symptoms and they last longer than 3 weeks:
- Swelling or bloating of the abdomen
- Pelvic discomfort or heaviness
- Back or abdominal pain
- Gas, nausea, indigestion
- Change in bowel habits
- Emptying your bladder frequently
- Menstrual irregularities
- Weight loss or weight gain
For more information, please visit: National Ovarian Cancer Association (www.ovariancanada.org)
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men. There are many older men who have this disease and my not know it. Usually it grows slowly and can often be removed or managed when it’s diagnosed.
Read more: Canadian Cancer Society-Prostate Cancer