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Home | WAS | Sunny nights for sexual science in Gothenburg

Report from the 19th World Congress for Sexual Health, 21-25 June 2008, Gothenburg, Sweden

Sunny nights for sexual science in Gothenburg

Rimini B. SazdanovskaMy dear Sexpresso,

I don’t know where to start from?! I’m still impressed by the wonderful experiences and I have many things to share. As you know, I participated at the 19th World Congress for Sexual Health which was held from 21st to 25th of June 2009 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

What should I select from the abundance of events: more than 500 presentations, lectures, symposia and posters from more than 1.500 participants who shared their professional experiences in the field of sexual research, education, counselling and therapy?! It is really a hard decision! :)

For me, the most significant moment of this big scientific event was the promotion of the publication of the “Sexual Health for the Millennium – A Declaration and Technical Document” in English and Spanish language. This very important document was promoted by Dr. Eli Coleman, the “guru” of sexology as a science. The World Association for Sexual Health has been working for almost 10 years to reposition sexual health from an approach limited to reproductive health and HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STI) to a rights-based gender sensitive domain, which recognizes the integrity and diversity of sexuality as well as the importance of the cultural context in which it is “produced”. Aligning and expanding sexual health with the United Nation Millennium Development Goals, I particularly like the aim which demands recognition of sexual pleasure as a component of holistic health and well-being.

Julia Heiman and Rimini

In the conversation after his presentation, Dr. Coleman encouraged us to continue with advocacy for this paradigm shift in my country. He is a major source of inspiration for me.


I’m especially glad that I again had the opportunity to meet Julia Heiman, the director of the Kinsey Institute. She was there to be awarded a WAS Gold Medal Award for her great research of female sexuality. It is always a pleasure to listen to her lectures. The same happened at the Congress. How to sell a woman’s sexuality is more familiar and even accepted as a part of daily life, than the basic factors which define its capacities and possibilities of development. It is not a great surprise; women’s sexuality is still seeking a legitimate place in science.

Rimini B. Sazdanovska in front of her posterI am also very satisfied that my presentation “Love-erotic and Sexual Education of Komaja in Macedonia” went very good. People were asking questions and showing interest about this issue. My poster was exposed in the exhibition area all five days during the Congress and it was a good opportunity for the participants to get familiar with the work of Komaja in the field of sexuality education in my country. As a result I established few new contacts with famous scientists from this area who are willing to cooperate with us in the future. Isn’t this great, my friend?

I was very also fascinated by something which attracts my personal interests. It was the lecture entitled as “Integrating Spirituality into Sex Research” by Gina Ogden, who established herself as a leading authority on sexuality and spirituality by her innovative survey. After years of hearing the deeply complex concerns raised by clients, she dared to pose questions that have never been asked before in a national survey. Instead of the usual “how much” and “how many,” she ventured beyond performance aspects of sex to investigate emotions and feelings and the spiritual aspects of women and men concerning their sexuality. Sexual response is multidimensional, including body, mind, heart and spirit. Maybe this is included in the famous expression “Oh, God!!!” which the people usually utter in the “crown” of their love-erotic and sexual act.

Vagina monologuesAs the love-erotic and sexual act needs “changing and variety of positions”, the Congress as well offered a variety of events, professions, races, nations, topics… So,  I was enjoying in the theatre performance of the famous “Vagina monologues” put into a scientific ambient, especially in the parts “my angry vagina” and “the flood”. But, at the end an appeal was sent that the vagina monologues should expand into vagina dialogues. There should be more communication and dialogue between the women and the healthcare professionals about vaginal health, which still remains at the level of an uncomfortable conversation.

Also, there was an appeal for including more love into sex researches. Because, as it was said, the power of love can bring more discoveries in the science of sexuality, starting first with the discoveries in the love itself.

Being one of the bigger group of scholarship recipients of grants from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, I was enjoying the hospitability of the Swedish people. Special programme was organized for us. We had the opportunity to visit the Department of Psychology in Gothenburg University and one of the famous youth clinics in Sweden. Can you imagine that the first sexual clinic in Sweden was opened in 1934 and that they have sexual education in the schools since 1954?!

And…you know what? I have already started my preparations for the next WAS Congress, which will be held in Glasgow, UK June 2011. We have enough time for scientific research, but... each day is also given to us to enjoy, celebrate and cultivate our sexuality and promote sexual health in our daily activities!



Rimini B. Sazdanovska