Sexual Health Rankings™ is based on the World Health Organization's definition of sexual health as "a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality."
Each of the 26 indicators that make up the Sexual Health Rankings™ composite index measures one or more of five basic elements of sexual health:
- The ability to have control over one's own sexual behavior and experiences
- The ability to decide freely on whether, and when, to procreate
- Freedom from discrimination and violence related to sexuality and gender
- Experience of sexual pleasure and satisfaction
- Freedom from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
A variety of things affect sexual health, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Some, but not all, of these things have to do with personal choices and actions. Laws and policies, culture, education, and health care systems affect every person's sexual health in some way. These things may not be under any one person's control, but they are changeable.
Sexual Health Rankings™ uses data that are currently available. But a lot of what we want to know about sexual health in America simply is not routinely measured and tracked. What's missing mainly has to do with the positive aspects of sexual health, like sexual pleasure and satisfaction, which until recently weren't considered important enough to study and monitor routinely.
More and better indicators of sexual health are needed. We want to spur the development of such indicators. Nevertheless, we can act now to promote and improve sexual health in this country based on what we know now.