Sexual Health Assessment Research Proposal

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Sexual Health Assessment Across the Lifespan

CONFRONTING ISSUES IN EVERY STAGE

Various studies show that the majority of women in their entire lifespan continue to be sexually active despite problems and other barriers in each life stage. The lack of monitoring data on these problems and resources for help and effective prevention and intervention for risky adolescent behaviors, unintended pregnancy among young adult women, barriers to IPV among pregnant women, a holistic approach to middle-age female sexuality and the un-addressed sexual needs of older women add to other misconceptions, which take a toll on sexual health and fulfillment. In turn, the imbalance adversely affects national health.

Introduction

The Problem and Its Significance

Health histories are the rational foundations for clinical reasoning and sound patient care management. Assessments are modified according to the patient's age, gender, race, lifestyle and other specific aspects. Conducting a realistic sexual health assessment among women requires distinct assessments of the different stages of a woman's life cycle. The significance of the study is the knowledge to be used as basis for formulating more effective and responsive strategies to address the separate issues in the various stages of women's sexual health and life.

Literature Review

Surgeon General's Call

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Scientific evidence shows that the current sexual health of the nation poses a serious public health that demands immediate action (Satcher, 2001). In its report, the Office of the Surgeon General said that what is done about it will have critical impact in the present as well as the future of the nation. Solutions are complex but the promotion of sexual health and responsible sexual behavior is a necessary first (Satcher).

Most Mature Adults are Sexually Active

Research Proposal on Sexual Health Assessment Across the Lifespan Assignment

Part of the evidence is the conclusion reached by the Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors of 27,500 men and women aged 40 -- 80 in 29 countries, representing many world regions in 2000-2001 (Laumann et al., 2009). Of this number, 1491 respondents were from the United States, 69.3% of them women. It found that the large majority of American respondents engage in sexual activity into the middle age and beyond. It also found that many of them confronted sexual problems but less than 25% sought help from a health professional. The most common sexual problems in men were early ejaculation at 26.2% and erectile difficulties at 22.5% and a lack of sexual interest at 32% and lubrication difficulties at 21.5% in women. The other countries surveyed were Austria, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and Israel. The study population assumed that it was generally representative of the American population (Laumann et al.).

The findings furthermore indicated that the majority of the respondents did not consider their sexual problems so severe as to lead them to seek help from health professionals (Laumann et al., 2009). Moreover, the doctors seldom monitored or inquired into patients' sexual health during routine consultation. Most patients would have welcomed the initiative and been encouraged to present their sexual health difficulties. Untreated sexual disorders and unaddressed sexual problems can adversely affect the quality of life. Improved functioning will also enhance doctor-patient relationship. The study concluded that most middle-aged and elderly people in the United States continue to be sexually active despite sexual dysfunctions. However, few of them do not seek medical assistance for the dysfunctions in the belief that these are not serious enough. It recommended proper educational initiatives in increasing awareness and understanding of sexual health. This will, in turn, encourage patients to seek help for a more fulfilling sexual life (Laumann et al.).

Changes in Women's Sexual Functioning

A recent longitudinal study showed that sexual functioning changes as women transition through the menopausal period (Avis et al., 2009). It found that sexual functioning in 75% of 3,302 42-52-year-old women decreased because of increased pain during intercourse. This, in turn, led to lowered sexual desire in them (Avis et al.).

The Study of Women's Health across the Nation or SWAN found that sexual desire among the majority of the respondents decreased with an increase in painful intercourse during late peri-menopause (Avis et al., 2009). It observed that the changes were related to the importance of sex among the respondents, psychological status, physical health and relationship between the partners. Vaginal dryness was associated with pain and reduced arousal, emotional satisfaction and physical pleasure. This link reinforced results of earlier studies that peri-menopausal or post-menopausal women experienced greater pain and lower sexual desire or interest. Estrogens are necessary for urogenital maturation and lower estrogen levels tend to decrease vaginal secretions during sex. This could reduce sexual pleasure from arousal and disturb the intimacy in sexual response. The results, thus, pointed to the importance of linking social, health and relationship factors in addressing menopause and sexual functioning. Feelings for the partner and the start of a new relationship were also identified as significant factors (Avis et al.).

National Strategy

Sexual health and responsible sexual behavior are among the Surgeon General's public health priorities and an essential part of the Healthy People 2010 initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services (Satcher, 2001). To address the issue, they set up strategies to increase awareness, implement and strengthen interventions, and expand research base. Increasing public awareness would be in the form of a national dialogue, presenting the opinions of leaders, providing proper sex education, offering health and social interventions and investing in research on the issue. The Surgeon General's call to action was primarily to induce the holding of a mature national dialogue on the issues surrounding sexual behavior and sexual health. The dialogue may be initiated by individuals, families, communities, the media or government and non-government entities. The idea is for all sectors to share in the responsibility to promote sexual health and responsible sexual behavior (Satcher).

The Adolescent Female

According to recent studies, the majority of adolescents 15-19 years old in the United States and Canada had had sexual intercourse at least once (Hall et al., 2004). Approximately half of the surveyed American female adolescents had had 2 or more sexual partners in the preceding year. More recent data also said that the incidence of syphilis in this age group had risen from 6.4 per 100,000 persons; gonorrhea from 571.8; and Chlamydia at 1131.6. In addition to sexually transmitted disease is the risk of unplanned pregnancy at approximately 40% in this age group. These figures indicated that the American adolescent engages in high sexual activity, which puts her at risk for sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy (Hall et al.).

Most of older American adolescents are sexually active and do not take precaution against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (Hall et al., 2004). This attitude seems to stem from a perception of personal invulnerability and inclination to focus only on immediate concerns and motives. Strategies for assessing and managing the American female adolescent behavior and health consist in an emphatic stance towards the issue, supportiveness towards her autonomy, identifying and owning her own values, familiarization with available resources and consulting with mental health practitioners when appropriate. The emphatic stance sees her sexual behavior as not inherently negative but naturally reflecting her physical and social development. Providing her with clear norms about the risks of unprotected sexual intercourse would likely reduce the chances of engaging in it. The tendency to avoid it is enhance if the family, friends, communities and institutions within it are supportive. Other interventions are the use of contraceptives, information on risks and how to avoid them, modeled communication, negotiation and refusal skills and the "authoritative" parenting style. Parents who are clear about rules on acceptable behavior but remain accepting and responsive to the child practice this style of parenting. They are likely to raise children who more psychologically healthy and socially adjusted, according to studies. Clinicians are advised to consider these strategies (Hall et al.).

Instead of encouraging sexual activity, counseling teen-agers on sexual matters enables them to make informed decisions and avoid consequences (Pray & Pray, 2003). Those who choose to be sexually active need accurate information about protection from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. They need to realize that the only proven method for both problems is sexual abstinence. They need to protect themselves from these even if they have a committed relationship and their partner is health. All the myths they are told or believe about preventing these problems are not true. Condoms work well if used correctly and may protect against some STDs but not all. Adolescents should be advised to choose a contraceptive method or a combination of methods, which will protect against the two problems and to use them correctly each time that they sex. If female adolescents suspect they or their partner has STD or they may be pregnant, they should consult a physician (Pray & Pray).

The Young Adult Woman

Much attention is given female adolescents over sexual behavior and sexual health yet most unintended pregnancies occur in adult women (Nettleman et al., 2007). A series of focus groups was conducted to identify the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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