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Making the Connection

Cairo, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health

For 35 years, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) has worked with educators, reproductive health care providers, medical professionals, and policy makers to promote sexuality education and sexual health for all people.

SIECUS affirms that sexuality is a natural and healthy part of living. SIECUS develops, collects and disseminates information; promotes comprehensive education about sexuality; and advocates the right of individuals to make responsible sexual choices.

SIECUS has developed this booklet to help program planners, providers, and policy makers understand the connection between sexuality and reproductive health. Part One defines sexually related health terminology. Part Two addresses issues relevant to reproductive health care clinics. (A Spanish language version of this brochure will be available soon.)

The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) calls on the world to address sexual health as an integral component of reproductive health and family planning programs:

" …reproductive health care is defined as the constellation of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations, and not merely counseling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases."
(Programme of Action, 7.2)

Two important objectives of the Programme of Action address sexuality and sexual health:

"To promote adequate development of responsible sexuality, permitting relations of equity and mutual respect between the genders and contributing to improving the quality of life of individuals."
(Programme of Action, 7.36a)

and

"To ensure that women and men have access to the information, education and services needed to achieve good sexual health and exercise their reproductive rights and responsibilities."
(Programme of Action, 7.36b)

The Programme of Action highlights the need for reproductive health care providers, program planners, advocates and policy makers to address the needs of adolescents, who need the tools and education to become sexually healthy adults:

"Governments, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations, are urged to meet the special needs of adolescents and to establish appropriate programmes to respond to those needs. Such programmes should include support mechanisms for the education and counselling of adolescents in the areas of gender relations and equality, violence against adolescents, responsible sexual behaviour, responsible family-planning practice, family life, reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection and AIDS prevention. Programmes for the prevention and treatment of sexual abuse and incest and other reproductive health services should be provided. Such programmes should provide information to adolescents and make a conscious effort to strengthen positive social and cultural values."
(Programme of Action, 7.47)

Sexuality and reproductive health are connected. Reproductive health care providers help people manage their sexual lives. Although contraceptive services have traditionally helped women plan the number and spacing of children, most clients seek contraception primarily to separate procreation from the recreational aspects of sexual intercourse.

Men’s and women’s sexual attitudes and behaviors influence their choice of contraception and their ability to use their methods effectively. Individuals’ reproductive health care decisions depend on their ability to make informed and healthy choices about their sexuality.

Providers and program planners need to address sexuality issues as an integral part of reproductive health. In a reproductive health care setting, practitioners have a special opportunity to provide information, education, and counseling to clients who otherwise might not have access to sexual health education and counseling.

National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education