The human sexuality education of medical students: A review of the history, current state of the art, and suggestions for future development

Kathryn A. Ando, Alan W. Shindel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Sexual health is a preeminent concern of people of all ages and from all parts of the world. In addition to its' personal significance, sexual choices and believes have important public health ramifications. Physicians are generally perceived by the public as important sources of information on sensitive and personal topics and are arguably the group best equipped to address anatomical and health related sexual concerns. Physicians have long been an importance source for information on contraception, safer sex, and the treatment of sexually transmitted infections. Recent strides in our knowledge of the biological processes which modulate sexual function, along with our greatly enhanced ability to intervene and treat sexual concerns, have dramatically enhanced the role physicians may play in ensuring a satisfying and healthy sexual life for all people. While a great many medical interventions are now available to help patients struggling with sexual problems, many patients may be hesitant to broach sexual problems with their physicians. It is therefore essential that physicians be proactive at initiating such discussions. There are numerous physician centered barriers to the provision of sexual health care which must also be addressed to optimize patient outcomes. The modern physician must, therefore, be knowledgeable about the biophysical foundations of sexual function in both men and women, adept at elicited sexual histories from patients who may have difficulty discussing this delicate topic, and sensitive to the needs and mores of people of different genders, ages, sexual orientations, and beliefs regarding sexuality. In this manuscript we will review the fundamental importance of sexuality in people and society. We also review barriers to physician's capacity to intervene positively on behalf of patients with sexual concerns. We will consider the evolution of medical school sexuality education over the past 50 years, discuss the current status of sexuality education in medical schools, and highlight several recent developments in sexual education curricula for medical students. Finally, we conclude with thoughts on the essential content of an ideal sexuality education curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Sociology Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781611222272
ISBN (Print)9781617618857
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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