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WAS Declaration on
Sexual Pleasure


In recognition that sexual pleasure is a fundamental part of sexual rights, sexual health, and sexual well-being, the World Association for Sexual Health:


Sexual pleasure is the physical and/or psychological satisfaction and enjoyment derived from shared or solitary erotic experiences, including thoughts, fantasies, dreams, emotions, and feelings.

Self-determination, consent, safety, privacy, confidence and the ability to communicate and negotiate sexual relations are key enabling factors for pleasure to contribute to sexual health and well-being. Sexual pleasure should be exercised within the context of sexual rights, particularly the rights to equality and non-discrimination, autonomy and bodily integrity, the right to the highest attainable standard of health and freedom of expression. The experiences of human sexual pleasure are diverse and sexual rights ensure that pleasure is a positive experience for all concerned and not obtained by violating other people’s human rights and well-being (1)


1. The possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences free of discrimination, coercion, and violence is a fundamental part of sexual health and well-being for all;
2. Access to sources of sexual pleasure is part of human experience and subjective well-being;
3. Sexual pleasure is a fundamental part of sexual rights as a matter of human rights;
4. Sexual pleasure includes the possibility of diverse sexual experiences;
5. Sexual pleasure shall be integrated into education, health promotion and service delivery, research and advocacy in all parts of the world;
6. The programmatic inclusion of sexual pleasure to meet individuals’ needs, aspirations, and realities ultimately contributes to global health and sustainable development and it should require comprehensive, immediate and sustainable action.

URGE all governments, international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, health and education authorities, the media, private sector actors, and society at large, and particularly, all member organizations of the World Association for Sexual Health to:

A. Promote sexual pleasure in law and policy as a fundamental part of sexual health and well-being, grounded in the principles of sexual rights as human rights, including self-determination, non-discrimination, privacy, bodily integrity, and equality;
B. Ensure that comprehensive sexuality education addresses sexual pleasure in an inclusive, evidence-informed and rights-based manner tailored to people’s diverse capacities and needs across the life span, in order to allow experiences of informed, self-determined, respectful, and safe sexual pleasure;
C. Guarantee that sexual pleasure is integral to sexual health care services provision, and that sexual health services are accessible, affordable, acceptable, and free from stigma, discrimination, and prosecution;
D. Enhance the development of rights-based, evidence-informed knowledge of the benefits of sexual pleasure as part of well-being, including rights-based funding resources, research methodologies, and dissemination of knowledge to address the role of sexual pleasure in individual and public health;
E. Reaffirm the global, national, community, interpersonal, and individual commitments to recognition of the diversity in sexual pleasure experiences respecting human rights of all people and supported by consistent, evidence-informed policy and practices, interpersonal behavior, and collective action.

The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) is a multidisciplinary, world-wide group of scientific societies, NGOs and professionals in the field of human sexuality which promotes sexual health throughout the lifespan and through the world by developing, promoting and supporting sexual health and sexual rights for all. WAS accomplishes this by advocacy actions, networking, facilitating the exchange of information, ideas and experiences and advancing scientifically based sexuality research, sexuality education and clinical sexology, with a trans-disciplinary approach.


The Declaration of Sexual Pleasure was originally proclaimed at the 24th World Congress of Sexual Health in Mexico City in 2019 and a final version was ratified by the General Assembly at the 25th World Congress of Sexual Health in Cape Town, South Africa in 2021.

(1) Adapted from: Global Advisory Board for Sexual Health and Wellbeing. (2016). Working definition of sexual pleasure. Retrieved from

Please send comments and/or help us to translate in your language:


Background paper

Jessie V. Ford, Esther Corona Vargas, Itor Finotelli Jr., J. Dennis Fortenberry, Eszter Kismödi, Anne Philpott, Eusebio Rubio-Aurioles & Eli Coleman (2019) Why Pleasure Matters: Its Global Relevance for Sexual Health, Sexual Rights and Wellbeing, International Journal of Sexual Health, 31:3, 217-230, DOI: 10.1080/19317611.2019.1654587

Image of a Technical Guide to WAS Declaration on Sexual Pleasure on the International Journal of Sexual Health's website


Thank you to all the volunteer translators and reviewers

Sharif Muhammad Hashimi Hisham, PhD, DSc. HS (Tunisia),
Khaled Louhichi, Demographer (Tunisia),
Sarra Mokadmi, MD, PhD (Tunisia),
Faysal El-Kak, MD, MS (Lebanon)

Translated by Dr. Ashkan Ilami. Reviewed by Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh.

Translated by Tommi Paalanen and Tiina Vilponen.

Translated by Georgios P. Pagkalos, MD, FECSM, IDFAPA.
Reviewed by Leftheris Papageorgiou.

Translation by Stefano Eleuteri, Roberta Rossi and Chiara Simonelli. Reviewed by Paolo Valerio.

Translation by Kazuko Fukuda (WAS Youth Initiative), Masayoshi Yanagida (WAS Youth Initiative until 2019), and Atsuko Komoda and Yuko Higashi (WAS Advisory Committee) did the final proofreading.

From the website of Norwegian Society for Clinical Sexology:
with Elsa Mari Almås.

Translation by Jolanta Betłakowska. Reviewed by Agata Loewe.

Translated by Marcia Rocha (WAS Sexual Rights Committee), Itor Finotelli Jr. (WAS Advisory Committee), and Melissa Passarini Gerim (Professional Linguist). Final proofreading by Patrícia Pascoal (WAS Advisory Committee), and Alain Giami (WAS Advisory Committee).

Translated by Gizem Seher. Final Reading by Yonca Cingöz, Hazal Dinçel, Berat Can Erdoğan (Sexual Health and Reproduction Health Rights Platform, CISU) Reviewed by Prof. Dr. Mehmet Sungur (WAS Advisory Committee member).

Proclamation of the Mexico City Congress Declaration on Sexual Pleasure, at the #WAS2019 #24WAS12FEMESS Congress!!

Pedro Nobre, President of WAS, Osmar Matsui, President of the Congress, and Alain Giami Chair of WAS Scientific Committee


In the picture the moment the Declaration is read in the Closing Ceremony by Pedro Nobre, President of WAS (Center) , Osmar Matsui President of the Congress (right), and Alain Giami Chair of WAS Scientific Committee (left).


Consultation towards the WAS Declaration on Sexual Pleasure in New York – 2019

WAS members at the consultation towards the WAS Declaration on Sexual Pleasure in New York in 2019
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