Sexual and emotional intimacy is an integral part of young adult life. A satisfying sex life helps reduce stress and anxiety, increases happiness and most often means better mental and emotional health, increased levels of trust and intimacy.
Many times, emotional and mental health problems curtail the enjoyment of sexual and emotional intimacy. On the other hand, serious sexual and reproductive health complications also lead to the curtailment of sexual and emotional intimacy in relationships.
Sexual and reproductive health conditions like erectile dysfunction, impotence, premature ejaculation, frigidity, painful sex often lead to psychological and emotional trauma that develop into relationship problems, the loss of self-esteem and productivity, depression, social isolation, stigma and even suicide in extreme cases. For many others yet, the excruciating pain as visited on patients suffering from ill prostate health and endometriosis, for example, can make it extremely difficult to lead a normal life.
The rising incidences of sexual health conditions among a greater section of younger populations, though not well documented presently, could have major societal impacts in the future in the form of skewed demographic trends in fertility rates, the number of children raised outside stable relationships, increased incidences of domestic violence and the emotional and mental wellness of the general public.
The irony of sexual intimacy
Because of their nature and the complex dynamics of intimate relationships, sexual and reproductive health problems are particularly difficult to address, with the degree of trust and intimacy between a couple arguably the most important factor in determining whether a situation around a reversible or irreversible sexual health condition is successfully resolved or not. Most often, even married couples keep any problems as may arise away from their partners to avoid raising suspicions or questions about their sexual past, for example. Indeed, it is policy in many public health facilities not to treat unaccompanied patients suffering from sexual infections and it is not in doubt that the larger number of the complications for which 80% of sub-Saharan populations seek traditional treatments are related to sexual and reproductive health.
These and similar dynamics arising from sexual and reproductive health complications between couples and that make it difficult for couples to seek and get treated in public health facilities lead to extremely high levels of stress and anxiety, impacting millions of mainly young, mostly urban lives negatively.
Recent social trends like the fitness craze and healthy eating are partly driven by the pursuit for better sex, intimacy and emotional wellness as more people struggle to cope with the pressures of modern life. Unfortunately, the emotional and psychological trauma arising from sexual and reproductive health conditions still appear to be on the rise despite increased awareness of sexual health issues and progressive social and healthy living trends which has seen the arrival of sex therapists onto the scene.
As is the trend in most parts of the world, sexual and reproductive health treatments and therapies are mostly either accessed in the form of self-medication or delivered to the public via private clinics whose services are still mostly priced to exclude the majority of the public.
The hope of ‘modern traditional medicine‘
Arguably, the biggest trend in the sexual and reproductive health sector will be the progression of traditional medicine into the consciousness of young, educated urban populations that still regard the practice of traditional medicine with suspicion due to old stereotypes about the risks and effectiveness of the same. Driven by a new generation of educated and discerning herbalists, traditional sexual and reproductive health solutions are now packaged and promoted to penetrate the consciousness of and are already positively impacting the lives of millions in previously unserved urban populations.