Sexual Health Health Center

It is important to be aware of the possible consequences of sexual activity and to take on the responsibility that comes with being a sexually active person. There are positive aspects of being sexually active, including pleasure, sharing intimacy with another person and the joy of bearing a child, but there are risks as well. These risks can include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancies.

Sexual health is a topic that covers many aspects of a person's health, including reproductive health and the process of attempting to conceive, contraception (birth control) and STDs. Men's reproductive health deals with conditions such as erectile dysfunction or impotence, and women's reproductive health deals with menstruation and pregnancy, among other topics.

Reproductive health is the realm of healthcare that deals with the process of planning and proceeding to conceive a child. During this process, couples may face obstacles — such as infertility — that can interfere with their ability to have a baby.

Contraception, or birth control, is the term for preventative measures taken to avoid pregnancy while still being sexually active. Some forms of birth control include barrier methods to block fertilization — such as condoms and diaphragms — and hormonal birth control like pills, patches and vaginal rings.

STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are viral or bacterial infections that can occur from unprotected sex with an infected partner. While some STDs are treatable, others have no cure. It is recommended that people who are sexually active get tested regularly for STDs.

Male reproductive health: The male reproductive system can be affected by conditions that make fertilization and impregnation difficult or impossible. Such conditions include erectile dysfunction, or impotence.

Female reproductive health: The female reproductive system begins preparing early in a woman's life for the possible need to carry a child to term. Menstruation begins at puberty, and the body changes again during pregnancy. Human pregnancy typically lasts 40 weeks or nine months from the start of the last menstrual cycle to the time of childbirth.

Review Date: 
September 4, 2012
Last Updated:
November 13, 2013