Positive sexual health and wellbeing
Sexual and reproductive health is the state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing related to sexuality and reproduction. It is not just the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Policy and action around sexual and reproductive health aims to support healthy sexual activity and reproduction and to reduce negative outcomes.
How big is the problem?
- Australia has high levels of sexual and reproductive ill health.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common and contribute to ill health and long-term complications – especially chronic pain and infertility.
- Tasmania has high rates of STIs among adolescents and high chlamydia rates.
- Tasmania's birth rate among teenagers is the third highest in Australia.
- The highest rates of teenage fertility occur in disadvantaged areas, with teenage women in these areas six times more likely to give birth than those in advantaged areas.
What are the barriers to positive sexual health and wellbeing?
Income, employment, housing, education, gender roles and access to community resources all impact heavily on sexual and reproductive health. Sexual and reproductive ill health disproportionally affects:
- young people
- people with disabilities
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTIQ+)
- culturally and linguistically diverse people
- sex workers
- those living in disadvantaged socio-economic groups or in isolated regions.
Teenage pregnancy, termination of pregnancy and birth rates also vary between communities. Birth rates are higher in rural and disadvantaged areas, among Aboriginal young women and among homeless youth.
What can we do?
- Improve access to primary level sexual health services and support.
- Social messaging to normalise and avoid stigma about testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Increase access to information and education about relationships and sexual health, including school-based programs.
- Reduce inequities in general health/sexual health and wellbeing outcomes.
- Positively influence the cultural and social factors that affect sexual health and wellbeing, including stopping discrimination and violence based on gender and sexuality.