Exploring Sexual Health Among Female Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic Patients, San Francisco 2010

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Abstract

Background

Current data on sexual health in the United States is limited, in part, because of a lack of measurement tools. It is difficult for programs to develop a holistic approach to improving sexual health that is data-driven and evaluable without a tool that encompasses sexual health beyond the absence of disease. The objective of this study was to understand possible factors associated with sexual health and reported differences in sexual health among women.

Methods

We conducted a survey measuring sexual health among women seeking care at the municipal sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic in San Francisco between January 25, 2010, and June 15, 2010. Records were matched on variables including basic demographics, reason for visit, symptoms at visit, history of an STD, and STD diagnosis at the visit.

Results

A total of 822 women completed the questionnaire during the study period. Women reporting no recent sexual activity reported feeling more insecure, angry, isolated, and limited because of health compared with women with recent sexual activity. However, few differences were seen among women based on symptoms and diagnosis at visit.

Discussion

Given the minimal differences based on symptoms and disease, this suggests that there are other factors that impact the quality of life and sexual health. Creating tools that can be used to measure sexual health is a necessary first step for programs to understand the sexual health of a community. More broad-based assessments of sexual health in a variety of populations will be critical to identifying points of intervention and progress toward success.

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