Sexuality & Sexual Health: A Matter of Health and Well-Being

Introduction

In today’s American culture, sexuality is openly expressed as liberation and an identity categorized in different subtopics. Moreover, the sexual identity has taken on new pathways such as nonbinary, bisexual, pansexual, sapiosexual, demisexual, fluid, androsexual, and so many others. The World Health Organization has described sexual health as a significant role in every individual’s evolving growth emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically with their sexuality (CDC, 2019). The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) has, since 2008, recognized sexual pleasure as a component of holistic health and well-being (Gruskin & Kismödi, 2020). It is fascinating how the general population is readily available to discuss and teach sexuality and sexual health, but it is treated conservatively in the healthcare arena. I hope this article continues the dialogue of speaking openly to patients about their sexual health needs and sexuality needs that have been affected by failed wounds and amputation procedures which have left them disabled and stigmatized as asexual.

 

Sexual Health Education is a must in the healthcare field for wound patients and amputee patients because they are sexual beings (Brooks et al., 2020). Why should the patients be treated dissimilarly because they require prosthesis devices and medical technological wound dressings to continue their daily activities? These patients are more open to discussing their sexual malfunctions and sexual complications such as low libido, questioning certain sexual positions with their partners, being faced with decreased self-perceived body image, and desirability to have sexual encounters (Brooks et al., 2020). Many patients feel like their healthcare workers do not care about them holistically (Brooks et al., 2020). The lack of consideration regarding their sexual health needs has caused unintentional harm because of their disability and shortcomings of having failed to heal wounds (Brooks et al., 2020). Healthcare professionals must understand that sexuality encompasses patients’ mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical after returning home from Rehab centers, wound care clinics, and other facilities (Brooks et al., 2020). Would you want to be treated as dead to sexual intimacy of all sorts?

 

The patients’ power lies in their identity of self; without it, it leaves the patient feeling void. Think about having a doctor visit that did not acknowledge you by name, not recognize your ethnicity nor nationality, your gender, or measure your vital signs. Instead, they wrote you a prescription for medicine to take. How would you feel visiting the doctor? I guess, feeling ignored and treated as a non-significant specimen. That is how wound patients and amputee patients feel when healthcare professionals do not take the time to learn about the patients and find out their needs: physical, sexually, mentally, and emotionally (Brooks et al., 2020). According to the identity process theory, an individual needs to be encouraged to achieve goals and persevere through tribulations (Brooks et al., 2020). A powerful sense of identity activates self-assurance, self-efficacy, strong self-esteem, authenticity, and freedom to explore their eroticism (Brooks et al., 2020). Patients want to be identified as sexually active individuals, even though they are going through the transition of wound care treatments and practicing how to navigate with prosthetic limbs (Brooks et al., 2020).

Conclusion

The de-sexualization that patients encounter with their healthcare professionals is serious, which leaves the patients feeling: lonely, depressed, alienated from sexual intimacies, stigmatized, and hinders from exercising their sexual health rights. It should not be a patient face with disability from amputation or wound care treatments being prevented from receiving sexual education. Instead, healthcare professionals should be an advocate for sexual literacy and sexual exploration after amputation and during wound care treatments. If America is the land of opportunities, why should any patient feel restrained from expressing their sexuality and being educated about improving their sexual health? Let the sexual exploration begin to enhance the well-being and sexual health of our fragile population of patients.

Disclaimer

 

The views and opinions stated in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect iWound, its affiliates, or partner companies.

References

CDC. (2019, June 25). Sexual health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 27, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/sexualhealth/Default.html

 

Gruskin, S., & Kismödi, E. (2020). A call for (renewed) commitment to sexual health, sexual rights, and sexual pleasure: A matter of health and well-being. American Journal of Public Health, 110(2), 159–160. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2019.305497

 

Brooks, S. G., Atkinson, S. L., Cimino, S. R., MacKay, C., Mayo, A. L., & Hitzig, S. L. (2020). Sexuality and sexual health in adults with Limb Loss: A systematic review. Sexuality and Disability, 39(1), 3–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-020-09665-w

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