Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Human Sexual Behavior & its effect on Reproductive Health
Sexual activity is one of the most crucial psychophysical activities in the lives of humans. It leads to pleasure and satisfaction which is critical for a fruitful and meaningful living. At the same time the sexual act remains as the most critical expression of the human sexual behavior and is also positioned as the central theme of the reproductive health.
Outcomes of sexual activity: Other than psychosomatic recreation sexual activity may have the following outcomes under various contexts affecting the reproductive health: 1) Pregnancy/Conception, 2) Infection and 3) Injury
Pregnancy: Sexual activity between heterosexual couple during a particular period of time (ovulatory phase of menstrual cycle) results in pregnancy provided both the couple is physically competent to procreate. Pregnancy may be wanted, unwanted as per the objective of the mating couple. Pregnancy is a normal physiological phenomenon but it definitely puts the women under certain degree of risks (like abortion related problems, pregnancy associated or induced health problems, post partum hemorrhage, complications in puerperium, complications of teenage, repeated and late pregnancies, implications on the newborns including Mother To Child Transmission/MTCT of HIV)
Infection: There are plenty of evidences globally that unprotected penetrative (rarely non penetrative) sexual acts are responsible for genital tract infection (genital tract means sexual and reproductive organs), anal tract infection, oro-pharyngeal infection, body infection (scabies, lice infestation) and other infections (hepatitis, enteric fever etc). The most talked about sexually transmitted infection in today’s world is HIV/AIDS. All the STIs have their epidemiological pattern, pathogenesis and treatment measures. But there is a uniform understanding (based on scientific evidences) throughout the world that protected sex can prevent 90-95% of STIs. Modification of the sexual behavior is unanimously accepted globally as the most critical strategy to ensure safe sex practice among vulnerable as well as general community to control STI/HIV.
Injury: Violent sexual act damages the sex organs (mostly the recipient partners). Rape, molestation, sexual harassment, sexual aberrations (sadism, masochism), some accepted social norms (sodomy, alcoholism, drugs) are common features, which ultimately push the passive partners into the risks of sex organs’ injuries including psychological trauma.
Behaviors in the form of non penetrative non touching sexual practices (like masturbation, exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism etc) also exist in the human society, which have different psycho-social implications and reflect a different dimension of human reproductive health.
So it is evident that the reproductive health is strongly influenced by the sexual behavior which is actually a critical psycho-physical human expression of a number of complex emotions driven by religious/spiritual beliefs, economic condition, cultural background, gender issues, educational status, legal implications and societal norms.
What is sexual behavior
Sexual behavior is a unique combination of knowledge, attitude and practice of sexual activity guided by one’s sexuality and a number of important environmental factors.
Reversing adverse outcome of sexual behaviour through modification of sexual behaviour is very challenging.