Tag: Health

DEVELOPMENT OF A SIMPLIFIED MANUAL FOR ENGAGING YOUNG PEOPLE ON SEXUAL REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH RIGHTS IN NAROK COUNTY

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Background

About Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW)

COVAW is a national non-profit women’s rights organization that was established in 1995 to respond to the silence of the Kenyan society in addressing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). Currently, COVAW focuses on five strategic areas as informed by its Strategic Plan 2018-2023, namely Access to Comprehensive SRHR and SGBV services, Access to Justice, Women’s Economic Empowerment, Women’s Leadership Development and Institutional Development. COVAW Strategic Plan 2018-2023 https://covaw.or.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/COVAW-Strategic-Plan-2018-2023-Full-Version.pdf

COVAW’s vision is a society where women and girls enjoy equal rights, freedoms and thrive in safe spaces. COVAW’s mission is to champion the rights of women and girls to be free from all forms of violence. COVAW is guided by its core values of respect, integrity, solidarity and commitment in improving the lives of its primary beneficiaries – women and girls.

About the project

COVAW with support from Amplify Change is implementing a one-year project titled **Mitigating Gender Based Violence through enhancing access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights in Narok County’. The project is being implemented in three areas namely: Narok South (Morloo Village); Narok North (Eneengetia Village) and Narok East (Sintakara village). The project seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To enhance awareness on FGM and SRHR.
  2. To strengthen the capacity of anti-FGM movement and SRHR actors such as CSOs, public officers, community-key influencers among others.
  3. To enhance access to SRH services in Narok County.

The purpose of the consultancy

The purpose of this consultancy is to develop a simplified manual for engaging young people i.e. girls and boys on access to youth friendly SRH services in Narok County.

The objectives of developing the manual include:

  • To increase young people’s knowledge on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and the SRH legal framework.
  • To increase young people’s understanding on sexuality and behaviors and the consequences of risky sexual behaviors.
  • To demystify myths and misconceptions that hinder access to Sexual Reproductive Health Services.
  • To encourage young people to seek SRH services to prevent unplanned pregnancies and protect themselves from Sexually Transmitted Infections(STIs).

Methodology and Scope of Work

The consultant will be tasked to:

  • Package the content in an attractive and creative manner.
  • Use illustrations relevant and familiar to the communities in Narok county.
  • Ensure proper referencing in case content is from another source.
  • Develop the manual in English.

In close coordination with COVAW, the consultant will develop the SRH manual which should cover the following:

  1. Understanding Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

    • What is Sexual Reproductive Health?
    • What are the constitutional and legal provisions on Sexual and Reproductive Health? (Human Rights-Based Approach Framework in Sexual and Reproductive Health)
  2. Male and female reproductive system

  • List the main organs in the male and female reproductive systems
  • Explain the process of menstruation and fertilization.
  1. Adolescence and puberty; understanding physical and emotional changes that happen during adolescence.
  2. Understanding social norms related to SRH that are relevant amongst the communities in Narok County
  • Cultural values of communities in Narok County
  • Attitudes towards embracing SRHR
  1. Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services and Information
  • Gaps in accessing SRH services and information in Narok County
  • Demystifying myths and misconceptions hindering access to comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health services
  • The role of men and boys in ensuring women and girls have access to SRH services
  1. Youth friendly SRH services and comprehensive sexuality education
  • A youth centered approach towards provision of youth friendly SRH services
  • Meaningful youth participation in comprehensive sexuality education
  • Identifying the strategies for implementing SRH Youth Friendly Services such as peer-to-peer services to increase coverage and accessibility.
  1. Understanding sexuality and behavior
  • Explain how sexuality affects behavior as well as explore messages about sexuality within Narok communities.
  • Describe the consequences of risky sexual behavior for adolescents
  1. Discuss on teenage pregnancy and prevention measures.
  • Discuss conception by explaining the terms fertilization and implantation.
  • Discuss body changes that occur due to pregnancy
  • Discuss normal pregnancy and ectopic pregnancy
  • Describe the risks associated with teenage pregnancy and measures to prevent including abstinence.
  1. Understanding the concept of safe and unsafe abortion.
  • Define and differentiate between safe and unsafe abortion.
  • Identify unsafe methods of abortion that have been used by girls.
  • Identifying the risks and complications resulted by unsafe abortion.
  • Prevention of unwanted pregnancies to reduce cases of unsafe abortion
  1. Contraceptives/family planning
  • Define the terms contraceptives and family planning and explain the difference
  • Discuss different forms and types of contraceptives
  • Discuss facts and myths about contraceptives
  • Requirements for use of contraceptives by young persons
  1. Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Explain the most common STIs including the typical symptoms.
  • Explain the treatment and management of STIs.
  • Differentiate between facts and myths about STIs
  1. Consent of the young people in access to SRH services
  • Occasions when consent is required.
  • The importance and requirement of informed consent in access to SRH services by young persons.
  1. Roles and functions of stakeholders and community members in advocating for SRHR

Expected outputs and deliverables:

The following will be the expected deliverables and outputs of consultancy:

  1. 1st Draft Document

The draft document will contain information as indicated in the scope above. Timely feedback on the 1st draft will be provided by the program team.

  1. 2nd Draft document

The revised training manual will synthesize all information, conclusions and recommendations taking into account all comments and additions from COVAW following the submission of the 1st Draft Document. In case the 2nd draft document is not satisfactory to either parties, communication and the work should continue till an approved 2nd draft.

  1. Preparation documents

All documents used in the preparation of this assignment such as progress reports, project documents, templates, etc. are expected to be submitted to COVAW together with the 2nd draft document.

  1. Validation meeting

COVAW will organize a feedback meeting. The consultant will make a presentation to the program team on the contents of the training manual. The meeting will be an opportunity to clarify outstanding aspects of the manual before their finalization.

  1. Produce final document

The consultant will be expected to produce the manual in English language which will include the main issues discussed and all the components provided by COVAW during the validation meeting. The consultant shall determine the substantive content of the resources. The manual should be printed in both sides. The manual must be formatted (edited, content layout and design) ready for publication (in a printable final version). Must submit one printed copy.

General terms and conditions: Confidentiality and authorship

Ownership and copyright of the simplified manual- The consultant will submit all the original document to COVAW. The consultant shall not re-produce information of this exercise in any form (electronic, hard copies, etc.) to third party without written permission from COVAW.

Timeframe

The overall consultancy is expected to take 30 working days including preparation phase. The

consultant should be able to undertake some of the tasks concurrently to fit within the planned COVAW work plan and timeframe, without compromising the quality of work.

The consultant will be supervised and guided directly by COVAW and the consultant will be required to meet the expected deliverables listed during the period of the consultancy.

Responsibilities

COVAW will be responsible for the following:

  1. Holding an entry meeting with the consultant
  2. Sharing the relevant COVAW background organizational information, project documents and providing contacts for the program team in charge.
  3. Review, discuss and improve the drafts produced from reviewed manual.
  4. Providing the consultant with specific information and feedback within the stipulated time.
  5. Validate the final training manual

The consultant will be responsible for the following:

  1. Developing a simplified manual
  2. Presentation of the simplified manual to the program staff
  3. Incorporating recommendations and feedback in the draft of simplified manual
  4. Preparation of final draft document of simplified manual
  5. Submission of the final simplified manual to COVAW

Consultancy competencies, experience and skills requirements:

  • Degree in Social Sciences or public health (with experience on gender work), Human Rights, Research, or related field.
  • Work experience in the non-profit sector in dealing with SRHR, human rights/SGBV issues.
  • Extensive experience in developing training manuals for similar projects that work with the marginalized groups including women and girls.
  • Good understanding of Human Rights (SRHR), SGBV and Social norms.
  • High level of professionalism and ethics

How to apply

All applications with a cover letter specifying professional qualifications, anticipated cost and timeline for the consultancy, at least one sample of training manual/illustrations of previous work related to this assignment and referees from the organizations you have developed training manuals for should be submitted on or before, Monday 20th June, 2022 5.00 PM EAT via email to [email protected] with subject: ‘Simplified Manual on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, Narok County.’

https://reliefweb.int/job/3856091/development-simplified-manual-engaging-young-people-sexual-reproductive-health-rights-narok-county

The effectiveness of group problem-solving therapy on women’s sexual function and satisfaction after mastectomy surgery | BMC Women’s Health

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Design and setting

The present research was a semi-experimental study, with a pretest, a post-test, and a one-month follow-up period. Written informed consent was obtained from all the participants. The patients were contacted based on the list available at the institute and according to the admission criteria. The samples were selected based on the inclusion criteria by reviewing the existing files. Breast cancer patients can choose this institution for treatment and use its services. Of 40 patients referred to the Tehran Breast Cancer Institute between Aug and Dec 2020, 32 were invited to participate in the study according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The sample size formula was (({varvec{N}} = frac{{2user2{*}left( {{varvec{Z}}_{{left( {1 – frac{ propto }{2}} right)}} + {varvec{Z}}_{{(1 – {varvec{beta}})}} } right)^{2} user2{*p*q}}}{{({varvec{p}}_{0} – {varvec{p}}_{1} )^{2} }}) where ({varvec{p}} = frac{{{varvec{p}}_{0} – {varvec{p}}_{1} }}{2}), ({varvec{q}} = 1 – {varvec{p}}), with %95 confidence interval, %5 alpha, and %15 chance of falling). The students were assured that the study results were confidential and would be published without names. They could leave the research at any stage.

Eligibility criteria

The inclusion criteria were as follows: cancer stages between I and III, 1–5 years passing from breast surgery, Iranian nationality, residence in Tehran, 30–59 years of age, ability to read and write, mastectomy, being married, having a single partner, not participating in any other consulting class, and finished chemotherapy.

The exclusion criteria were lumpectomy surgery, cancer recurrence, history of significant physical and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and major depression, and drug abuse.

Instruments

The research instruments included a demographic characteristics questionnaire, the female sexual function index (FSFI) questionnaire [21], and the Larson sexual satisfaction questionnaire [22]. The demographic characteristics questionnaire included age, education, marital status, contraceptive method, breast cancer grading, type of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy records.

The female sexual function index (FSFI) includes 19 questions, each with four answer options. This standard questionnaire measures six dimensions of sexual function (sexual desire (two items), sexual arousal (four items), lubrication (four items), orgasm (three items), sexual satisfaction (three items), and pain (three items) over the recent four weeks. Measures were taken as per the questionnaire to determine each person’s score in each section and determine the overall score. The lowest score of 2 is the maximum of 36. The cutting score for determining sexual disorders is 26 or less. The total point obtained is calculated in different areas. The total score is obtained by adding up six sections Brown, 2000). The questionnaire was validated by Fakhri et al. The general test–retest reliability coefficients were acceptable for each domain of the questionnaire (from 0.73 to 0.86) and the internal consistencies (from 0.72 to 0.90) [24].

The sexual satisfaction questionnaire is the Iranian version of the sexual satisfaction questionnaire consisting of 25 5-answer questions. The items in the questionnaire are scored based on a Likert scale from one to five, with “never” receiving 1, “rarely” receiving 2, “sometimes” receiving 3, “most of the times” receiving 4, and “always” receiving 5. A total score of 25–75 is equal to low sexual satisfaction, 76–100 to medium sexual satisfaction, and 101–125 to high sexual satisfaction. Reliability was determined using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient (0.8 for positive question and 0.77 for negative one) and intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC = 0.8) (23, 24).

Interventions

This study was accomplished in fall and winter 2020. After obtaining informed consent, the participants provided their phone numbers and addresses to participate in the study. The time, date, and place of the counseling sessions were announced by phone. A counseling program based on a problem-solving approach, including eight 90-min counseling sessions per week, was designed for the participants based on a review of texts and the research team’s opinions. The participants formed four groups, each consisting of eight individuals in a suitable location in the breast cancer institute. A summary of the contents of the sessions is outlined in Table 1. The questionnaires were completed by the participants before the intervention (baseline), immediately after the intervention, and one month later (follow up).

Table 1 Subjects of discussions in each counseling session

Ethical considerations

The study was performed under the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the Ethics Committee of the Research Deputy of the Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences (code: IR.SSU.MEDICINE.REC.1397.176).

After explaining the study’s aims for the participants, written informed consent was obtained from all of the participants. Confidentiality was ensured.

Data analysis

The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and inferential statistics via SPSS 21 software (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). A significant value was considered less than 0.05. Since the distributions of the studied variables were normal, parametric statistical tests, such as variance analysis used, repeated measures, and the Bonferroni post hoc test, were performed.

The training of the five problem-solving skills began based on the problem-solving steps of Dezorella and Goldfried. The steps included defining and planning the problem, analyzing the problem, determining real goals, producing a solution, deciding and choosing the best solution, predicting possible consequences of each action, paying attention to the usefulness of these consequences, implementing the selected solution, and reviewing and evaluating the steps of problem-solving skills.

Sample assignments:

  • A list of symptoms and complications of treatment was prepared and shared in the next consultation

  • Preparing a list of ways to deal with negative thoughts and strengthen positive thoughts, reviewing solutions

  • Practicing problem-solving skills (reducing intimacy and fear of having sex) and practicing strategies and suggestions in the following counseling session

  • Practicing anger management strategies, reducing negative emotions, practicing active listening, and sharing results in the following counseling session

  • Dedicating time and space to oneself, practicing relaxation skills, practicing sensory exercises, breathing training, practicing joint massage, and Kegel exercising and sharing it with one’s spouse

Due to the extent of the problem in counseling sessions, the problem-solving and cognitive-behavioral methods became a component.

https://bmcwomenshealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12905-022-01628-x

Integrating Mental and Sexual Health

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Effects of mental health on sexual health
Sexuality and mental health
References
Further reading 


Sexual health refers to physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being in relation to one’s sexuality. It is essential for well-being, general health, and overall quality of life. It is not solely the absence of an illness, dysfunction, or infirmity. Sexual health necessitates a respectful and positive approach to life toward sexuality and sexual relationships and the ability to make pleasant and safe sexual experiences that are free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.

People often think about sex as something that happens in our bodies, but much of our sex life occurs in our brains. It’s critical to understand that, for all genders, our feelings and thoughts play a significant role in arousal and maintaining it.

Anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems can make it difficult to be relaxed enough to have or enjoy sex, overshadowing it with intrusive distractions or worries. When a person is extremely ill and struggling hard to function, sex is rarely on the mind. The conflict of mental illness, in its various forms, can harm a person’s self-esteem and make them feel undeserving of sexual attention.

Effects of mental health on sexual health

Healthy sexual functioning is among the most important aspects of quality life and having a satisfying intimate relationship. Sexual dysfunction is widely known in the general population, affecting approximately 31% of men and 43% of women in the United States. The most notable dysfunction among women is decreased sexual desire, as reported by approximately one-third of the women.

Image Credit: Inspiring/Shutterstock.com

Premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction are the most common sexual dysfunctions amongst men. Despite the significance and higher incidence of sexual dysfunction, most individuals who suffer do not seek help because they are embarrassed or do not see it as a medical problem.

Endocrine factors, neurotransmitters, and neuropeptides all mediate and influence sexual function in a complex way. Endocrine factors include estrogens, androgens, progesterone, oxytocin, prolactin, pheromones, and cortisol. Neurotransmitters involved in sexual functioning, primarily dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine, are also involved in the pathophysiology and pharmacological treatment of major psychiatric disorders.

Schizophrenia and sex

Patients with schizophrenia (approx. 1% of the population) are more likely to be victims of sexual dysfunction due to the nature of the disease. These patients’ premorbid personalities are usually schizoid or schizotypal, with few interpersonal relationships and a lack of sexual experience. The disorder’s negative symptoms, such as avolition, anhedonia, and blunted affect caused by hypo-dopaminergic activity in the frontal cortex, severely impair one’s capability to enjoy sexual life.

Sex and depression

Around 10% of the population suffers from episodic depression that severely impairs their quality of life and functioning. A decrease in libido is frequently associated with a major depressive episode. Depressed people may also have a reduced ability to maintain sex drive or achieve orgasm. In men suffering from severe depression, the rate of erectile dysfunction may reach up to 90%.

Sexuality & Mental Health | EP 4, The Future is Intersectional

In terms of sexual dysfunction, depression affects women more than men. Women are more likely to experience depression symptoms, making them feel undesirable, self-conscious regarding their bodies, unsure about their sexual confidence, and hesitant to engage in sexual activities.

Anxiety and sex

Anxiety plays a significant role in developing sexual dysfunctions. Performance anxiety is a well-known phenomenon, particularly in men worried about erectile response and erection durability. Another psychological effect of erectile dysfunction that increases anxiety is a narcissistic perturbation. The individual’s self-esteem may continue to deteriorate, raising concerns for himself and his partner. This may lead to behavioral changes in the individual, such as avoidance of intimacy and temper outbursts. These factors contribute to increased anxiety and erectile dysfunction, resulting in a vicious cycle of failure and elevating anxiety.

Sexuality and mental health

In recent years, there has been a growing scientific development in the field of sexuality research. However, there is a shortage of well-trained professionals that could help in maximizing its benefits. Sexuality remains taboo, with various interpretations and complicated delimitations of standard or pathological behavior. More resources are required to understand emerging pathologies better and expand research into new models of sexual behavior.

It is well known that all psychiatric diseases include some variance in sexual symptoms and difficulties, with significantly different individual sexual interpretations and problems. Anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and psychosis all include symptoms that affect sexual life, such as decreased arousal, desire, or sexual satisfaction, that must be identified appropriately and addressed.

Image Credit: Mary Long/Shutterstock.com

Image Credit: Mary Long/Shutterstock.com

Hypoactive sexual desire or even aversion to sex (paradoxically frequently iatrogenic only after prescription of prolonged use of serotonergic antidepressant medication) have reached almost epidemic proportions that go unnoticed and unstudied these days. In general, several antidepressant prescribers are unmotivated to detect and prevent iatrogenic sexual dysfunction, which can severely impair the patient’s sex life and satisfaction, contributing to emotional deprivation of all those who must experience it in the medium to long – term, as serotonergic antidepressants (SSRIs) continue to be the most commonly prescribed in the Western world.

Considering the patients with psychosis, some clinicians may believe that it is best not to investigate their patients’ sexual lives, as this may worsen psychotic symptoms or simply interpret the information obtained as unreliable. Several others may avoid it since they will not have to deal with the adverse effects of some prescribed antipsychotics, which severely inhibit dopamine activity and impair sexual functioning.

It is never too late to reintroduce the study and approach to sex and its concerns as something rewarding in mental health and patients’ overall existence. Reclaiming sexuality as a fundamental aspect of mental health should be one of the top priorities.

References

  • Kline, D. (2015). Sex, Intimacy and Mental Well-Being. Here To Help. Retrieved 15 January 2022, from https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/sex-intimacy-and-mental-well-being.
  • Montejo, A. L. (2019). Sexuality and mental health: the need for mutual development and research. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(11), 1794.
  • Sex & Mental Health: Why You Need to Understand the Connection. Psycom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1996. (2021). Retrieved 15 January 2022, from https://www.psycom.net/sex-and-mental-health.
  • Seitz, T., Ucsnik, L., Kottmel, A., Bitzer, J., Teleky, B., & Löffler-Stastka, H. (2020). Let us integrate sexual health—do psychiatrists integrate sexual health in patient management?. Archives of women’s mental health, 23(4), 527-534.
  • Zemishlany, Z., & Weizman, A. (2008). The impact of mental illness on sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction, 29, 89-106.

Further Reading

https://www.news-medical.net/health/Integrating-Mental-and-Sexual-Health.aspx

Lovehoney’s new health range hailed as ‘game changer’ for boosting sexual happiness

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Lovehoney’s newest range is designed to manage health conditions which can diminish sexual enjoyment

The new Lovehoney Health range is priced from £9.99

Lovehoney might be popular for offering a wide range of sex toys and lingerie pieces, but their latest collection focuses on health.

The new Lovehoney Health collection has been specially designed by experts to boost sexual happiness – and it has already been hailed as a ‘game changer’.

It includes three different kegel exercisers, a dilator set, penis bumper set and manual vacuum penis pump, all which are made from soft silicone for maximum comfort.

A recent survey by Lovehoney found that both men and women had experienced problems which had impacted their sex life, including vaginal tightness and erectile dysfunction.

The brand’s latest products have been developed with a healthcare professional to manage health conditions which can diminish sexual enjoyment.

Lovehoney Health Silicone Kegel Toning Set

  • Set of 3 progressively weighted Kegel exercisers to tone and strengthen your pelvic floor
  • Included weights are 50g, 80g and 100g so you can advance at your own pace
  • Hypoallergenic silicone is best used with water-based lubricant
  • May help increase the strength of your orgasms
Lovehoney Health Penis Pump and Ring Set

  • Penis pump with constriction ring set for improved erection strength and size
  • Ergonomic design makes the pump easy to use one-handed
  • Quick-release valve stops suction when you’re finished pumping
  • 4 stretchy silicone constriction rings included to help prolong your pumped erection
  • Results may vary
Lovehoney Health Extra Thin Lubricated Latex Condoms (12 Pack)

  • 12 pack of vegan-friendly condoms with a snug fit for worry-free fun
  • Close-fitting condom with extra lubrication for slick satisfaction during wear
  • Odourless and flavourless for subtle yet powerful protection
  • May help reduce sensitivity and delay ejaculation (results may vary)
  • Vegan-friendly and CE marked so you can feel conscientious and confident

If you need to strengthen your pelvic floor, the sexual wellness retailer’s Silicone Kegel Toning Set can help. It’s cleverly shaped for easy, progressive training in 50g, 80g and 100g weights. By strengthening the pelvic floor, this set may improve bladder control and increase the intensity of orgasms.

There’s also a set of Penis Bumpers for reducing the the depth of penetration. These stretchy rings mean the wearer won’t have to worry about going too deep, so their partner can relax and enjoy the moment in comfort.

Another product worth considering is the Silicone Dilator Set. If you suffer from vaginal tightness, these dilators can gradually increase in diameter so you can slowly introduce your body to penetration.

Sarah Mulindwa, presenter of Channel 4’s The Sex Clinic and a Lovehoney ambassador, said: “The Lovehoney Health products provide complete peace of mind and comfort and can help if you are looking to resolve a known problem or just to see if they can makes sex easier and more pleasurable.

“So many women complain about feeling discomfort during sex and this new collection tackles some of the most common issues.

“Painful sex affects all age groups. There are many, many reasons why sex becomes uncomfortable.

“The products in this range are made from body-safe, silky soft silicone which feels great next to the skin.”

Lovehoney Global Product Director Bonny Hall said: “We know from our research and the feedback we get from customers that they want and need sexual health products developed with experts which address the most common problems impacting on sexual happiness.

“We feel this new range offers both sexes relief and workable ways to improve sexual satisfaction and performance.”

Lovehoney’s new Health products have already been getting rave reviews from customers.

Calling the Dilator Set a ‘game changer,’ one person said: “Since using these dilators I now have a lot less discomfort – meaning a spontaneous quickie is now an option which has been wonderful.”

Another said the Kegel Toning Set was a ‘fun exercise programme,’ adding: “I have found that they not only tone my pelvic floor muscles but they also turn me on which is a bonus.”

The Lovehoney Health range is priced from £9.99 to £69.99 and is exclusively available at lovehoney.co.uk.


https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/shopping-deals/lovehoney-sexual-health-range-hailed-27186125

Redefining sexual health for benefits throughout life

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Sexual health is relevant throughout a person’s life, through to adolescence and into 
older age – not only during their reproductive years. 

It is determined by the quality and safety of people’s relationships: with oneself and other individuals, with family and friends, and the society in which we live, including the gender norms that shape our experiences. These relationships are themselves
dependent on whether everyone’s human rights related to their sexuality are realized and protected.

WHO’s working definition of sexual health emphasizes a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, that is much more than just physical – one that cannot be separated from sexual well-being:

Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity.

Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.

“Sexual health is not a fixed state of being, and every person’s needs will change across the life course,”said
Ian Askew, former Director of the WHO Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, including the  United Nations Special Research Programme HRP. “This is why it is crucial to undertake a range of activities across this continuum: from support of sexual well-being, to prevention and management of disease.”

Pleasure as a consideration for the success of sexual health interventions

Ahead of Valentine’s Day (14th February, 2022), a new analysis was published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on
the need to consider sexual pleasure, not only risk of disease, in designing sexual health programmes. 

What is the added value of incorporating pleasure in sexual health interventions? A systematic review and meta-analysis shows
this can be an important success factor for improving knowledge around sex and uptake of safer sex practices such as condom use.

Looking at outcomes from various initiatives, the research recommends redesigning sexual education and health interventions to incorporate sexual pleasure considerations, including when promoting safer sex. This means acknowledging the reasons why people
have sex – and recognizing that sexual experiences can and should be pleasurable.

“Sexual health education and services have traditionally promoted safer sex practices by focusing on risk reduction and preventing disease, without acknowledging how safer sex can also promote intimacy, pleasure, consent, and wellbeing,” said Dr Lianne Gonsalves, World Health Organization, paper co-author. “This review provides a simple message: programmes which better reflect the reasons people have sex – including for pleasure – see better health outcomes. The hope is that these results galvanize the sexual and reproductive health and rights community to promote services that educate and equip users to engage in sex that is safe, consensual, and pleasurable.’

What next for sexual health and well-being?

Interventions specifically intended to improve sexual well-being are gradually emerging.

A major milestone is the new edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) which has a chapter on sexual health for the first time. By providing the
latest evidence-based definitions, WHO is facilitating the diagnosis and appropriate management for a wide variety of conditions related to sexual health.
Countries began using this chapter from January 2022.

Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. WHO recently
collaborated with partners, including HRP, to develop guidance for out-of-school CSE programmes that are appropriate and safe for different groups of children and young people. This complements the guidance developed by the United Nations on school-based sexuality education. Both these guidance documents reiterated that
sexual activity is part of normal and healthy living, as is giving and receiving sexual pleasure.

Another recommendation is for policy-makers to integrate brief sexuality-related communication when possible, a clinical tool for behaviour change which takes a holistic and positive understanding of sexual health and sexuality.

Sadly, this is not everyone’s reality. Many women, girls and gender-diverse persons experience
non-consensual and violent sexual activity. WHO and HRP are supporting national efforts around the world to prevent and manage the consequences of all forms of sexual violence.

To eliminate diseases that affect sexual health, WHO is developing new global strategies to address STIs, including HIV – while taking into account the current pandemic-induced health system disruptions.

Given the many evidence gaps for achieving universal access to STI/HIV services, WHO is currently prioritizing a research agenda for improving the implementation of national STI programmes. This agenda will complement WHO’s leadership in developing 
innovative point of care tests for
quicker and more accurate diagnostic testing, and in specifying the “Global STI Vaccine Roadmap” to guide research and development for new vaccines against STIs.

A central aspect of being human

Good sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries.

WHO is committed to identifying and promoting sexual health itself, so that everyone, everywhere is able to fulfil their human rights related to their sexuality and sexual well-being.

 

https://www.who.int/news/item/11-02-2022-redefining-sexual-health-for-benefits-throughout-life

Categories: Reviews

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Study finds virtual mindfulness-based intervention for sexual health as a feasible treatment option for cancer survivors

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Sexual dysfunction is a common after-effect for survivors of breast and gynecologic cancers. A recent Oregon State University study found that a mindfulness-based intervention delivered via videoconference by a trained facilitator was a feasible treatment option for survivors.

The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, was a small pilot designed to test whether participants were able to fulfill the time commitment for the discussion group meetings and at-home practice exercises of the intervention, and how they felt about meeting via Zoom.

Sexual dysfunction is really common, but it’s often not discussed as a potential thing that can happen to people in their bodies after their cancer and cancer treatment. And this usually doesn’t go away on its own, without intervention. There are a lot of people in my research who are just out there dealing with it, feeling like they’re alone.”


Jessica Gorman, lead author, associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences

Cancer and cancer treatments can affect sexual health in a variety of ways, she said. Breast cancer survivors who had a mastectomy may experience a blow to their self-confidence and sexuality; hormonal changes can affect libido and cause vaginal dryness and pain during sex.

“Most health care providers don’t talk with patients about it. I think this is true of sexual health in general -; a lot of people are not comfortable talking about it; there’s a stigma, a question of ‘should I really be talking to my doctor about it?'” Gorman said. “So this is a known problem, and there are efforts underway to try to improve sexual health communication between cancer care providers and patients, but that really isn’t happening quickly or consistently.”

The pilot study included 22 people total in two cohorts: one before the COVID-19 pandemic and one during the pandemic’s early months. Participants went through an eight-week mindfulness-based intervention in a group setting, with a trained facilitator leading discussions on sexuality and factors influencing sexual interest; guided meditations; and practical ways to apply mindfulness exercises in everyday life, including sexuality.

The weekly group sessions occurred via Zoom and lasted 1.5-2 hours each. Participants were also given homework to practice mindfulness exercises and reflect on aspects of sexuality.

In addition to cancer survivors, researchers recruited clinical and community stakeholders who provide medical and supportive care or work in advocacy for cancer survivors. Stakeholders did not attend the Zoom group sessions but were asked to read through the intervention and share their assessment of the general approach.

In general, participants who completed the eight-week program said the time commitment was manageable, and more than 80% attended at least seven of the eight sessions. Roughly three-quarters of participants reported learning and practicing mindfulness exercises; learning about how sexual interest is affected by thoughts and behaviors; and thinking about how their cancer experience relates to their sexual concerns.

Almost three-quarters of participants also said they liked the group nature of the program, especially the knowledge that they weren’t alone in their struggle. However, there were some concerns; some participants said the discussions tended to be dominated by an outspoken few; others felt uncomfortable sharing personal details or struggled to feel a connection to the group in the remote video format.

The role of the facilitator proved crucial, Gorman said, and going forward it will be important for facilitators to be more active in moderating group discussions and ensuring each participant feels welcome to speak openly. From the pilot, researchers also learned it will be important to include a second facilitator who can monitor the technical aspect of Zoom meetings.

Researchers now want to test the intervention with a larger group of people to see if the virtual program can affect patient outcomes, Gorman said.

“I don’t want to create something and have it just be a research study; I want it to be out in the world,” she said. “I want people to be able to use it.”

Source:

Journal reference:

Gorman, J.R., et al. (2022) Feasibility of Mindful After Cancer: Pilot Study of a Virtual Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Sexual Health in Cancer Survivorship. Journal of Sexual Medicine. doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2022.03.618.

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220608/Study-finds-virtual-mindfulness-based-intervention-for-sexual-health-as-a-feasible-treatment-option-for-cancer-survivors.aspx

OSU study: Zoom-based mindfulness group proves feasible intervention for post-cancer sexual health

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Sexual dysfunction is a common after-effect for survivors of breast and gynecologic cancers. A recent Oregon State University study found that a mindfulness-based intervention delivered via videoconference by a trained facilitator was a feasible treatment option for survivors.

The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, was a small pilot designed to test whether participants were able to fulfill the time commitment for the discussion group meetings and at-home practice exercises of the intervention, and how they felt about meeting via Zoom.

“Sexual dysfunction is really common, but it’s often not discussed as a potential thing that can happen to people in their bodies after their cancer and cancer treatment,” said lead author Jessica Gorman, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “And this usually doesn’t go away on its own, without intervention. There are a lot of people in my research who are just out there dealing with it, feeling like they’re alone.”

Cancer and cancer treatments can affect sexual health in a variety of ways, she said. Breast cancer survivors who had a mastectomy may experience a blow to their self-confidence and sexuality; hormonal changes can affect libido and cause vaginal dryness and pain during sex.

“Most health care providers don’t talk with patients about it. I think this is true of sexual health in general — a lot of people are not comfortable talking about it; there’s a stigma, a question of ‘should I really be talking to my doctor about it?’” Gorman said. “So this is a known problem, and there are efforts underway to try to improve sexual health communication between cancer care providers and patients, but that really isn’t happening quickly or consistently.”

The pilot study included 22 people total in two cohorts: one before the COVID-19 pandemic and one during the pandemic’s early months. Participants went through an eight-week mindfulness-based intervention in a group setting, with a trained facilitator leading discussions on sexuality and factors influencing sexual interest; guided meditations; and practical ways to apply mindfulness exercises in everyday life, including sexuality.

The weekly group sessions occurred via Zoom and lasted 1.5-2 hours each. Participants were also given homework to practice mindfulness exercises and reflect on aspects of sexuality.

In addition to cancer survivors, researchers recruited clinical and community stakeholders who provide medical and supportive care or work in advocacy for cancer survivors. Stakeholders did not attend the Zoom group sessions but were asked to read through the intervention and share their assessment of the general approach.

In general, participants who completed the eight-week program said the time commitment was manageable, and more than 80% attended at least seven of the eight sessions. Roughly three-quarters of participants reported learning and practicing mindfulness exercises; learning about how sexual interest is affected by thoughts and behaviors; and thinking about how their cancer experience relates to their sexual concerns.

Almost three-quarters of participants also said they liked the group nature of the program, especially the knowledge that they weren’t alone in their struggle. However, there were some concerns; some participants said the discussions tended to be dominated by an outspoken few; others felt uncomfortable sharing personal details or struggled to feel a connection to the group in the remote video format.

The role of the facilitator proved crucial, Gorman said, and going forward it will be important for facilitators to be more active in moderating group discussions and ensuring each participant feels welcome to speak openly. From the pilot, researchers also learned it will be important to include a second facilitator who can monitor the technical aspect of Zoom meetings.

Researchers now want to test the intervention with a larger group of people to see if the virtual program can affect patient outcomes, Gorman said.

“I don’t want to create something and have it just be a research study; I want it to be out in the world,” she said. “I want people to be able to use it.”

https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/osu-study-zoom-based-mindfulness-group-proves-feasible-intervention-post-cancer-sexual-health

Sex Therapy, Your Sexual Health, and Healthy Sex: What to Know

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Sex therapy may be recommended in a variety of scenarios, says Michael Krychman, MD, executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine in Newport Beach and coauthor of The Sexual Spark. Here are some of the most common scenarios:

Personal Conflict Issues Related to Sexuality This includes, for example, sexual trauma or assault. Dr. Krychman recommends seeking individual therapy first to cope with these issues, then gradually including your partner as needed.

Conflict About the Relationship A common example here would be a partner experiencing sexual boredom. In this case, it’s better to seek therapy alone first so that you can better understand yourself and your own sexual concerns, then incorporate your partner, says Krychman.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior (CSB) Once again, in this scenario it’s better for the person with the compulsive behavior or the partner to see a therapist alone first, then bring in the partner. “Sometimes, personal emotions of betrayal, guilt, or fear may need to be explored before incorporating your partner,” explains Krychman. “The one suffering from CSB may also experience a wide range of emotions, such as fear, shame, and anxiety. Addressing your personal emotional experience is important prior to bringing and dealing with your partner — this may enhance communication.”

Couple, Marital, and Sexual Problems For instance, with the infidelity of one partner, Krychman typically recommends that the couple tackle the concern or problem together from the start and address the roles they may have played with respect to the issue. “No one is blameless in a dysfunctional relationship, and couples can jointly work together to improve the quality of their experience,” he says.

Personal Coping Difficulties Related to Sexuality This area might include if you’ve just been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection and want to learn how to disclose your status to your partner or partners.

RELATED: 6 Things Women Need for a Happy and Healthy Sex Life

You’ll Learn to Be Mindful and More Aware

In mindfulness training, you learn to be present and focused on the here and now, rather than letting yourself get distracted by grocery lists and carpool plans. When using this concept in sex therapy, you learn to block out extraneous thoughts as well as negative thoughts you might have about your body or your performance. Instead, you are guided in thinking only about how your body is reacting to sexual stimulation.

Lori A. Brotto, PhD, executive director of the Women’s Health Research Institute and Canada research chair in women’s sexual health at the University of British Columbia in Canada, has done research on this topic, including a study published in November 2016 in Archives of Sexual Behavior. She has found that there’s significant improvement in responsiveness in women suffering from anxiety-related sexual dysfunction. Dr. Brotto, also author of Better Sex Through Mindfulness, says that the hypothesis behind the results is that the mindfulness skills that the women acquired benefited their sexual motivation and response both directly, “by allowing them to nonjudgmentally focus on sexual sensations in their bodies before and during sexual encounters, and indirectly, by improving mood and decreasing stress and anxiety.”

Physical Issues Won’t Be Ignored in Sex Therapy

If there is a physical issue, such as vulvodynia or impotence due to radiation for prostate cancer, the therapist will refer you to a medical specialist who will work in tandem with the sex therapist.

RELATED: 8 Rules for a Healthy Vagina

https://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/sex-therapy.aspx

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Is Sex Good for You and Your Health Even Without Orgasm?

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Despite what pop-culture depictions might showcase, sex can encompass so much more than the penetration-to-orgasm pipeline. For starters, there’s a whole repertoire of sexy “outerplay” acts, which describe a non-penetrative route to pleasure that can be just as effective (if not more so!). And while orgasm is a worthy destination of any pleasure practice—however it is that you get there—a lack of orgasm doesn’t negate the enjoyable, health-supportive value of other parts of a sexual journey. In fact, if you fall within the estimated 5 percent of people with a vulva who can’t orgasm, or the 11 to 41 percent of vulva-owners who have trouble orgasming, it’s important to know this: Sex is good for you with or without orgasm.

Though orgasm (through solo or partnered sex) certainly presents its fair share of health perks, the release of good-for-you chemicals driving many of these benefits doesn’t just flip on at climax. “We can infer from studies done about touch, in general, that many of the same positive neurotransmitters are released in the context of welcome sensual touch and non-orgasmic sex, likely at a lower level but still enough to experience benefit,” says gynecologist Lyndsey Harper, MD, founder and CEO of sexual-wellness platform Rosy.

“Many positive neurotransmitters are released in the context of welcome sensual touch and non-orgasmic sex.” —Lyndsey Harper, MD, gynecologist

In fact, during a small 2011 study tracking brain activity in people with vulvas while they self-stimulated, researchers found that the parts of the brain responsible for those feel-good chemicals were activated well before orgasm. “All along the way, the brain was releasing some of these substances, including oxytocin, dopamine, and pain-relieving peptides such as our internal opioids,” says neuroscientist and sex therapist Nan Wise, PhD, a researcher on the study and author of Why Good Sex Matters.

As an important caveat, though, if you’re preoccupied by the fact that you can’t or won’t reach orgasm while engaged in sex acts, it’s less likely you’ll experience the above neurochemical benefits. “Focusing on trying to have an orgasm or being upset for not being able to reach climax might actually make you more tense,” says Dr. Wise. So, if you feel that orgasm is, in fact, a non-negotiable in your sex equation, and you’re struggling to experience it, it’s worth exploring new techniques, communication strategies, or supportive products to fast-track your way there.

Otherwise, simply acknowledging that sex is good for you, health-wise, with or without an orgasm, can prime you for a more satisfying sexual experience. Below, sexperts outline the specific benefits you can reap from any form of sex, even when its ending isn’t orgasmic.

3 reasons why sex is good for you, even without an orgasm, according to sexperts

1. It can relieve stress and anxiety

Orgasm aside, sensual or sexual touch offers real mental-health benefits, mainly through prompting the release of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters noted above. Oxytocin, in particular, has even been called the “cuddle hormone” for the ways in which snuggling up can instigate its release, which delivers a calming, stress-melting effect. Not to mention, studies on social touch suggest that many of the elements of non-orgasmic sex can have other stress- and anxiety-relieving effects in the context of safety, consent, and mutual desirability, says Dr. Harper.

That benefit will be all the greater if you’re mindfully focused on the pleasurable sensations at hand while you’re having sex, adds Dr. Wise. “This increases your chances of eliciting a balanced nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetic state—which is calming and restorative,” she says. In that state, the brain also slows the release of stress hormones like cortisol, she adds, leaving you more at ease and relaxed, which can help you fall asleep more smoothly, too.

2. It may boost your heart health

This happens by way of a few pathways, none of which require orgasm. For one, as sex can help you downshift into that calm parasympathetic state noted above, it can also increase your heart-rate variability—aka the metric tracking how well your heart rate adapts to your nervous system and environment—which is a measure of a healthy heart, says Dr. Wise. In other words? The more often you have positive, consensual sex (orgasm or not), the more you’re training your heart to slow its pace in response to a relaxing, non-threatening environment.

And from there, the more positive emotions you feel around sex and intimacy, the more likely it is you’ll also be able to experience cardiac coherence, which is when your heart rate adopts an even pattern synced with your breath, supporting your physical and emotional well-being, adds Dr. Wise. “Having a good connection with yourself if you’re masturbating, or with a partner if you’re having partnered sex, is really the key to dropping into a nice state of cardiac coherence [orgasm notwithstanding],” she says.

3. It can strengthen your pelvic floor

It’s worth noting that any kind of sex can be a physical exercise, and depending on the type of positions in which you’re pretzeling your body, you could actually strengthen any number of muscles in the process. (Isometric hold, anyone?)

But even if you’re sticking to missionary or lying on your back for a solo sex session, your pelvic floor will stand to benefit. Because genital touch increases blood flow to the muscles, nerves, and tendons in the pelvic floor and leads to muscle contractions, sex or masturbation (even without orgasm) can help strengthen those muscles, pelvic-floor physical therapist Amanda Olsen, DPT, previously told Well+Good. And happily, the association works the other way around, too: A stronger pelvic floor will lead to even better, longer-lasting sex.

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Is Sex Good for You Even if You Don’t Orgasm? Here’s What Sexperts Say

Categories: Reviews

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Safe Havynn teaches life skills, sexual health to instill purpose

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Inside an unassuming green storefront on Jefferson Street in Lafayette several teenagers sit in plush blue armchairs on a Friday in June, discussing everything from personality types to sexual health.

The goal behind these conversations is to equip young people in Louisiana with medically accurate and researched information, so they can make healthy choices and build brighter futures. This is the mission of Safe Havynn Education Center, a grant-funded nonprofit that focuses on teaching life skills and sexual risk avoidance.

The students in armchairs Friday are taking part in the Kickback, the organization’s two-day conference-style workshops that incorporates lessons on self-esteem, communication, setting goals and boundaries, financial literacy and more. 

“These are skills that are just essential for your well-being,” said Arial Moore, Safe Havynn founder and executive director. “People assume you’ll gain these skills in high school or college, but you don’t.”


https://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2022/06/07/safe-havynn-teaches-life-skills-sexual-health-instill-purpose/9934343002/