World Sexual Health Day Helps To Raise Awareness About the Importance Of Sexual Rights And Their Key Role In Well-Being.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many people lived the confinements as if they were a honeymoon in which they could spend more time with their partners. Photo: Pexels
LatinAmerican Post |María Fernanda Ramírez
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Leer en español: Los devastadores efectos del coronavirus en la salud sexual
Sexuality is essential for the healthy development of people. It is an aspect that encompasses much more than sexual relations; it involves sexual orientation, gender identity, relationships, pleasure, reproductive rights, sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections, diseases in the reproductive system, and harmful practices such as female mutilation. These are things to think about and talk about on World Sexual Health Day.
What implications has COVID-19 had on sexual health?
At the beginning of the pandemic, many people experienced the confinements as if they were on a honeymoon in which they could spend more time with their partners. However, with the passing of the months and the increase in stress, uncertainty, economic difficulties and, in general, the negative effects of the pandemic, the sexuality of many has been affected.
Studies have been conducted around the world to measure how people's sexual behavior changed due to the pandemic and studies have found that sex has decreased, as indicated by research published in The Journal of Sex Research.
"Indeed, in the post-pandemic, sexual health will have unpredictable changes due to all the economic, social and emotional situations that we are experiencing," says Nereyda Lacera, a Sexologist Certified by the Latin American Federation of Educators and Clinical Sexologists.
On the other hand, this year, the United Nations Population Fund estimated that about 12 million women suffered difficulties in accessing contraceptive services due to the pandemic. Consequently, there are expected to be more than 4 million unintended pregnancies. This will surely increase the number of clandestine abortions, with negative impacts on female health.
Regarding physical aspects, many women have expressed themselves on social networks stating that they have noticed various alterations in their menstrual cycle. The European Medicines Agency published a report in which it indicates that there is no causal relationship between alterations in the menstrual cycle and vaccination against COVID-19. In this regard, the University of Granada is carrying out an investigation, known as the EVA project.
Regarding the male part, the Korean Society for Sexual Medicine and Andrology conducted an investigation that found that patients who had had coronavirus, developed a generalized dysfunction of the endothelial cells and that this may have an effect on erectile dysfunction. So it is possible that this effect adds to the aftermath of COVID-19. However, more research is still needed to determine what the real impact of COVID-19 is on male erection.
Sex education, an urgent need
The WHO points out that for men and women to have sexual health and well-being, it is essential that there is access to good quality information about sex. Sexuality education should contemplate teaching the consequences of unprotected sexual activity, but also the importance of having pleasurable sexual experiences, consensual, and free from discrimination and violence.
However, the strong impact that the pandemic has had on educational processes has not left out sexual education. In this regard, Dr. Lacera points out that "pornography has become the sex educator of children and adolescents, but in their cognitive development they are not prepared to understand these explicit contents."
Research published in the journal Frontiers in psychiatry indicates that problematic Internet and pornography use has increased significantly during the pandemic and that this has a burden on public mental health. It also indicates that addiction to the Internet and/or pornography can make "readjustment" after the pandemic complicated and difficult to cope with.
Sex education is not a topic that should only be taught in schools, since sexuality is a human dimension that is present throughout life, although there are different experiences at each stage. On this, Dr. Lacera points out: “Today we know that attachments, healthy emotions, the possibility of loving and being loved, interactions with other people, the quality of sleep, a clear mind, and other factors, affect a positive and full sexual health ”.
In short, World Sexual Health Day is a key date to become aware of the importance of making free and informed decisions to live positive, pleasant, and safe sexuality. "It is important that we take care of our body and its pleasure, just as we have taken care of it to avoid contagion by COVID-19," recommends Dr. Lacera.