sexual health

sexual health

write a response journal throughout your progression through the study plan.  Whilst there is not particular format required,

Sexual health is relevant to all health workers. Throughout this topic you will keep a response journal. This is a major part of the assessment for the topic. Further information is provided in the Assessment: information and resources folder on your FLO topic site. As we go through the topic you will be asked to make journal entries. These are an academic piece of work and are required to be referenced where appropriate. Some entries are your thoughts that will not require a reference and some will require that you cite the source. A notation of minimum expectation is provided for each activity.
It is not so long ago that no one spoke openly about sex and sexuality. Now it is quite freely talked about, and read about, however it is not always clear that people are talking about the same thing. Sex and sexuality are terms that are used interchangeably. Culture, religion, socio-economic status and politics are some of the influences that impact on how we understand and relate to people regarding sex and sexuality.
The promotion of sexual health is an integral part of the role of the midwife. How this is dealt with by the health professional will depend on their own knowledge about sexuality and sexual health and how prepared they are to incorporate this aspect of care into their practice. The focus of this topic is on principles that can be applied to all groups that you come in contact with. Groups have not been singled out for discussion or problems identified in depth. The following are some suggestions as to ‘groups’, or ‘issues’ related to sexual health. It may be from this list that you choose your essay topic. The list is not
Journal entry 1
Finish the following sentence. Write this response how you feel now. It does not need to be referenced.
Sexuality means …
After you have completed this sentence, move on through the topic. It will be interesting to return to this entry after you make your last entry. Page 1 of 6
NURS3906 > Study plan > Section 1: Introduction
inclusive or complete. Sexual assault, menopause, lesbian health issues, gay men’s health issues, sexually transmitted infections, contraception, disability (physical and intellectual), fertility/infertility, refugee sexual health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health, sexual heath for sex workers, sexual health, sexuality and medical conditions, sexuality and palliative care, sexuality and the organ transplant or spinal cord injury client, sexuality in pregnancy and postpartum and sexuality and mental health. This is where you have the opportunity to study, in depth, your area of interest. There is very little written in the literature about sexual health as a stand-alone topic. Women’s health and men’s health are addressed in literature relating to each specific gender. To find both addressed together is indeed rare.
Defining sexual health is problematic and it is interesting that the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken a new focus on the topic and they have started to look at sexual health as a separate area of work in its own right. The WHO defines sexual health as:
Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It 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.
Having this overview from a WHO perspective will give you a foundation for the topic. You will also find their website useful so you are urged to ‘have a look around it’ at some stage. There are some fabulous resources and I hope, like me, you are able to do some interesting reading.
Go to this website: and access the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, Sexual and reproductive health—research and action in support of the Millennium Development Goals: biennial report 2006-2007.
This is a compelling report in relation to helping people lead healthy sexual and reproductive lives. It also provides evidence of the progress made towards the MDGs in the year 2015. Page 2 of 6
NURS3906 > Study plan > Section 1: Introduction
Sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male. While these sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, they tend to differentiate humans as males and females. In general use in many languages, the term sex is often used to mean ‘sexual activity’, but for technical purposes in the context of sexuality and sexual health discussions, the above definition is preferred.
(WHO 2012, Gender and human rights, Geneva, viewed 6 March 2012,
As you will see from the first reading from your text ‘sex’, ‘health’ and ‘sexual health’ are concepts that depend very much on understanding and views. Our understandings are shaped by the environment, culture, religion, legal, family and others and we will explore some of these as we go through this topic.
Text reading
Pitts, M 2005, ‘Introduction: sexual health for all? Australia today’, in M Temple-Smith & S Gifford (eds), Sexual health: an Australian perspective, IP Communications, Melbourne, pp. xix-xxxi.
Journal entry 2
Over the next four weeks collect at least 5 newspaper or magazine articles that have sex in the title (along the lines of the titles in the text on page xvi). Examine them in relation to each of the following headings:
•What is the content?
•Who is the target group?
•Is there any research cited?
•Who should be doing something about the issue?
Each article must be examined independently; you cannot cluster them all together. Submit your evaluation of them to your journal. Make sure that you reference or state where the article came from, for example, ‘Prostitution to be legalised in South Australia’ (article title), the Advertiser (source), 10 February 2012 (date). Provide the website address if located online, or scan the newspaper/magazine clipping and upload as an attachment (referencing of clipping required). Page 3 of 6
NURS3906 > Study plan > Section 1: Introduction
As stated previously, sex and sexuality are used interchangeably in the literature. Sex is the term most commonly used to denote biologic male of female status, for example, on statistic forms. It is also used to describe specific sexual behaviour, such as sexual intercourse. In a dictionary written by Phil Jarratt, he defined sex as:
exercise which is designed to make two or more people look as ridiculous as they ever have while feeling as good as they ever will. (1984)
While this fun definition is to be taken lightly it actually epitomises how many in the community perceive sex.
Sexuality on the other hand is an appropriate and descriptive term to use when dealing with sexual issues. It refers to the totality of being a person and includes all those aspects of human being that relate specifically to being boy/girl, man/woman. It reflects the human character and not solely our genital nature. It is also concerned with the biological, sociological, spiritual and cultural variables of people’s lives. The components of sexuality are biologic sex, gender identity and gender role.
Now that you have some ideas about the language used in this area you will become more aware of how it is used and the context in which it is used.
Promotion of sexual health
The promotion of sexual health is not the responsibility of one person. It is also important that sexual health is targeted in the right direction and at the appropriate age group.
Australia’s health 2010, is a publication of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and it contributes ‘to national information on health needs and services and to the development and evaluation of health policies and programs in Australia’. You can access the AIHWs website at: The following is an extract from Australia’s Health 2010:
Sexual and reproductive health
Sexual development is a normal part of adolescence, and sexual and reproductive behaviour during adolescence can have far-reaching consequences in later life. According to the 2008 Survey of Secondary Students and Sexual Health, over three-quarters of students had experienced some form of sexual activity, with 27% of Year 10 students and 56% of Year
Journal entry 3
Give a definition (referencing required) of the following:
•biologic sex
•gender identity
•gender role. Page 4 of 6
NURS3906 > Study plan > Section 1: Introduction
12 students having had sexual intercourse. Between 2002 and 2008 there was an increase in the proportion of students who had had sexual intercourse (from 35% to 40%). Nearly all students used some form of contraception at their most recent sexual encounter—twothirds had used a condom and nearly half of the females were on the contraceptive pill (Smith et al. 2009).
Teenage motherhood, particularly at younger ages, can pose significant long-term risks for both mother and child, including poorer health, educational and economic outcomes (Ambert 2006; Sleebos 2003; WHQW 2008). According to the AIHW National Perinatal Data Collection, in 2006 around 11,900 infants were born to teenage mothers—a rate of 17 live births per 1,000 females aged 15–19 years. Teenage births declined in the decade to 2003 (from 22 live births per 1,000 females aged 15–19 years in the mid-1990s to 17 in 2003), but rates appear to have stabilised from 2003 onwards. In 2006, the teenage birth rate among Indigenous females was 5 times as high as that among non-Indigenous females.
(AIHW 2010, Australia’s health 2010, Australia’s health no. 12, Cat. no. AUS 122, AIHW, Canberra, p. 310)
Some other questions to think about (and try and find answers) include:
• What is the median age of first intercourse?
• What % of births occur outside of marriage?
• In 2010 what was the median age of mothers at the birth of their first child?
• What is the female usage of emergency contraception?
• Is there readily available information on the health of reproductive organs?
• How many men report trouble keeping an erection?
• What is the service provision of Family Planning Australia?
• Where can you find information about STIs?
Journal entry 4
List 4 to 6 sexual health promotion activities that you know about or have discovered. Discuss how each of the activities is promoted, for example, media, television, radio, print; who the activity is targeted at; and how it is funded. Reflect on whether you think it is an effective sexual health promotion activity (referencing optional). Page 5 of 6
NURS3906 > Study plan > Section 1: Introduction
While this reading focuses on sexually transmitted infections, their history and policy development, there are health promotion messages within the text.
Text reading
Tibbits, D 2005, ‘Healthy policy for sexual health?’, in M Temple-Smith & S Gifford (eds), Sexual health: an Australian perspective, IP Communications, Melbourne, pp. 262-285. Page 6 of 6

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