Breaking taboos around sexual health problems in India

In a country home to the world’s second highest population, it is unusual that India is also the impotence capital of the world. ‘Embarrassing’, ‘immoral’ or ‘uncomfortable’ are just some of the feelings people associate with whenever there is any conversation surrounding sexual health. With most of the sexual health-related talk restrained to the bedroom and basic sex education limited to an elementary-level chapter in the biology textbook, the only time we hear of sexual health problems is through those discreetly pasted ads on buses and autos, or in the clinics of ‘gupt rog’ specialists.

The question thus remains, are we really doing enough to address the problems associated with sexual health and well-being?

In India, problems related to sexual health have largely remained a hush-hush and taboo topic. Poor sexual education combined with the absence of qualified specialists makes many simply dismiss their sexual ill health and suffer in silence. By extension, many people who face sexual health issues are left with no option but to trust random internet sources and quacks, which can be overwhelming and risky. Thus, many end up self-medicating or receiving inappropriate treatment.

Sexual health largely neglected

While there has been a boom in the conversations surrounding sex and sexuality, sexual health discussions are still forbidden. In fact, sexual problems are far more common than we think. Premature ejaculation (PE), desire disorders and erectile dysfunction (ED), are commonly reported amongst men. Nearly 8 out 10 patients involved in a study reported sexual problems with lack of desire, absence of arousal, pain during sexual intercourse, lack of lubrication and sex-related anxiety topping the list of reported issues. Not only are some of these sexual health issues and diseases serious in nature, but they are also deeply tied to mental and physical health. Ignoring these issues has been linked to poor familial health as well as rising divorce rates.

Of course, people simply brush sexual health-related conversations under the carpet worrying about how others may perceive them. This, in turn, inhibits them from discussing these issues even with close companions like their partners, family or friends. Many even find it cumbersome to visit a qualified specialist such as a sexologist.

Digital health clinics to the rescue

A big part of the solution to these challenges lies in destigmatising and placing sexual health issues on the same platform as other physical health problems. While Indians may be more aware than before about sexual health problems, we also need to be open to conversations. Remember, sexual health solutions involve more than just a course of medication or alternate therapies. It needs a holistic approach. Normalisation and redressal of issues, backed by innovative solutions, is the key to bridging the gap.

Since it is difficult to draw patients to the specialists, it is important that we bring healthcare to them. Digital health solutions that have come to the fore during the pandemic have played a major role in bringing healthcare closer to patients. They can be smartly leveraged to address the missing gaps in the realm of sexual wellness. The digital health ecosystem has the potential to create a sex-positive community which empowers patients to take control of their issues. The focus should be on normalising sexual health problems by providing personalised and judgement-free healthcare at the patient’s convenience. Digital clinics are the way to facilitate authentic and optimal treatment, keeping in mind the patient’s comfort and discretion.

Sexual health problems can have a huge impact on one’s physical and mental health. One must not shy away from seeking help and the right treatment.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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