SRHR Definitions

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Sexual Health

A state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation 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.


Reproductive Rights

These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes the right to make decisions concerning reproduction, free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents.


Reproductive Health

Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition is the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility.


Sexual Rights

Sexual health cannot be achieved and maintained without respect for, and protection of, certain human rights. The application of existing human rights to sexuality and sexual health constitutes sexual rights.
Rights critical to the realization of sexual health include:

  • The right to privacy
  • The right to equality and non-discrimination
  • The right to information, as well as education
  • The right to the highest attainable standard of health (including sexual health) and social security
  • The right to marry and to found a family and enter into marriage with the free and full consent of the intending spouses, and to equality in and at the dissolution of marriage
  • The right to decide the number and spacing of one’s children
  • The rights to freedom of opinion and expression
  • The right to an effective remedy for violations of fundamental rights.


The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others. Sexual rights protect all people’s rights to fulfil and express their sexuality and to enjoy sexual health, with due regard for the rights of others and within a framework of protection against discrimination.