Promoting sexual health and wellbeing

Sexual and reproductive health is a 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 from sexual and reproductive experiences.

Impact and scale of the issue

Australia has unacceptably 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 second only to the Northern Territory. The highest rates of teenage fertility occur in the most disadvantaged areas, with teenage women in these areas over six times more likely to give birth than those in the most advantaged areas.

Health inequity and sexual and reproductive health

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 people, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, culturally and linguistically diverse people, sex workers, and 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.

Evidence that health promotion action can bring about change

Effective approaches to sexual health and wellbeing aim to improve access to primary level sexual health services and support; increase access to information and education about relationships and sexual health; reduce inequities in general health/sexual health and wellbeing outcomes and positively influence the cultural and social factors that affect sexual health and wellbeing.

Visit the evidence library to find more information about this principle.