Definition of SRHR


The comprehensive definition of SRHR proposed by the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission (Starrs and others, 2018) covers sexual health, sexual rights, reproductive health and reproductive rights and reflects an emerging consensus on the services and interventions needed to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of all individuals. Additionally, it addresses issues such as violence, stigma and respect for bodily autonomy, which profoundly affect individuals’ psychological, emotional and social well-being. It further specifically addresses the SRHR of neglected groups (e.g. adolescent girls, LGBTI+ individuals and those with disabilities). As such, the definition offers a comprehensive framework to guide governments, United Nations agencies, civil society and other stakeholders involved in designing policies, services and programmes that address all aspects of SRHR effectively and equitably. For universal access to SRHR to become a reality, national policies and implementation plans need to take a comprehensive approach to SRHR and address the multifaceted determinants of health and include synergic interventions that address all components of supply, demand and enabling  environment.

Key Definitions

ACROAmericas and the Caribbean Region
CFPACaribbean Family Planning Affiliation
CSEComprehensive Sexuality Education
CSOCivil Society Organisation
FPAsFamily Planning Associations
GBVGender-Based Violence
HFLEHealth and Family Life Education
ICPDInternational Conference on Population and Development
IPPFInternational Planned Parenthood Federation
LGBTQI+Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and
Additional Identities
M&EMonitoring and Evaluation
PAHOPan American Health Organization
PANCAPPan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS
PLWDPeople Living with Disabilities
PLHIVPeople Living with HIV
SDGSustainable Development Goals
SGBVSexual and Gender-Based Violence
SISpotlight Initiative
SRHRSexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
UNFPAUnited Nations Population Fund
UNICEFUnited Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund
UWIUniversity of the West Indies
VAWGViolence against women and girls

Components of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)

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.”

Sexual health implies that all people have access to:

  • Counselling and care related to sexuality, sexual identity, and sexual relationships
  • services for the prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS,  and other diseases of the genitourinary system
  • psychosexual counselling, and treatment for sexual dysfunction and disorders
  • prevention and management of cancers of the reproductive system

Sexual Rights

Sexual rights are human rights and include the right of all persons, free of discrimination, coercion, and violence, to:

  • achieve the highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health services
  • seek, receive, and impart information related to sexuality
  • receive comprehensive, evidence-based, sexuality education
  • have their bodily integrity respected
  • choose their sexual partner
  • decide whether to be sexually active or not
  • engage in consensual sexual relations
  • choose whether, when, and whom to marry
  • enter into marriage with free and full consent and with equality between spouses in and at the dissolution of marriage
  • pursue a satisfying, safe, and pleasurable sexual life, free from stigma and discrimination
  • make free, informed, and voluntary decisions on their sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity

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 implies that all people are able to:

  • receive accurate information about the reproductive system and the services needed to maintain reproductive health
  • manage menstruation in a hygienic way, in privacy, and with dignity
  • access multisectoral services to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence and other forms of gender-based violence
  • access safe, effective, affordable, and acceptable methods of contraception of their choice
  • access appropriate healthcare services to ensure safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and healthy infants
  • access safe abortion services, including post-abortion care
  • access services for the prevention, management, and treatment of infertility

Reproductive Rights

Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the human rights of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive health. They also include:

  • the right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion, and violence
  • the right to privacy, confidentiality, respect, and informed consent
  • the right to mutually respectful and equitable gender relations