Gender Disparity Related to Poor Sexual Health in the UK

A recent study published in the journal “BMC Public Health” shows that there exists a gender disparity in case of poor sexual health in the UK population. Poor sexual health was found to be more prevailing in females than males.

The study included 12,132 participants, including both men and women from Wales, Scotland, and England.

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The findings revealed that among these participants, almost half of women (47.5 percent) and 17 percent of men were suffering from poor sexual health.

From these results, experts deduced that current interventions available for sexual health might overlook the high-risk groups, indicating the need for additional strategies.

To have a better understanding of this gender disparity in the UK, a research team at the University of Glasgow analyzed the sexual health markers in both genders. These markers include problems related to sexual function and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The team interviewed the study participants aged 16 – 74 from the year 2010 – 12. In addition to these markers, the team also observed the association of sexual health with a person’s satisfaction with his/her sex life and with lifestyle, sociodemographic, and health status.

According to the study leader – Alison Parkes, sexual health is a broad term, covering various health risks, such as problems with sexual function, sexual coercion, unplanned pregnancies, and STIs. She said that having an idea about the risk pattern of these problems can facilitate better and more targeted delivery of sexual health programs.

The team recognized sexual health classes on the basis of commonly found sexual health markers. Among which four were common in both genders.

These were Sexual Function Problems (7 percent of females and 9 percent of males), Wary Risk-takers (2 percent of females, 4 percent of males), Good Sexual Health (52 percent of females, 83 percent of males), and Unwary Risk-takers (7 percent of females, 4 percent of males).

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In females, two other sexual health classes were identified, Highly Vulnerable class including 2% of total female participants and Low Sexual Interest class with 29% of females. The researchers found that chances of abortion and STIs were more in Highly Vulnerable group compared to other classes.

In females, low satisfaction with sex life was common in all sexual health classes. Whereas, in males, the chances of low satisfaction were greater in Sexual Function Problem class compared to Good Sexual Health class.

The study results found that current sexual health intervention efforts aren’t much beneficial for groups disregarding risks of STI and females with several sexual health issues or distressed with their sex lives.

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Additionally, the research team identified some common characteristics (drug use, alcoholism, or depression) in groups with poor sexual health. An understanding of these factors in vulnerable groups can help in making targeted interventions to improve their sexual health.

This study is observational and can’t identify causal mechanisms. According to Alison Parkes, in the time where financial issues halt the better delivery of sexual health services, its beneficial to focus on interventions that provide more benefits.

Identification of common characteristics in groups with a higher risk of poor sexual health by the study can help in reducing several sexual health problems by targeting these sociodemographic, health, and lifestyle factors.

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