181634 Do ask, do tell: Bringing sexuality into reproductive health

Monday, October 27, 2008: 3:10 PM

Marsha Gelt, MPH , Center for Health Training, Oakland, CA
Amanda Newstetter, MSW , Center for Health Training, Oak;and, CA
Reproductive health is intertwined with sexuality. Effectively helping family planning clients prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections involves discussion about sexuality, including sexual behaviors, sexual orientation, gender roles, pleasure and intimacy. Research has demonstrated that quality communication between providers and clients can improve sexual health, and that sexual pleasure and sexual risks are related. Across all cultures, staff members who feel comfortable talking about sexuality are more likely to put their clients at ease, and clients are more likely to give truthful information. However, extensive training provided by the Center for Health Training (CHT) has shown that clinic staff are hesitant to talk about sexuality — particularly sexual behaviors and sexual pleasure—with clients. Many staff state that they do not feel it is “any of their business.” Not only does staff's discomfort with sexuality make it difficult to conduct effective risk reduction counseling, but it sends the message that sex is taboo. In response, CHT has developed sexuality educational content, examining biases and values and delving into topics such as sexual pleasure, that is integrated it into all training conducted for reproductive health care staff. A more specific curriculum entitled, “Do Ask, Do Tell” has also been developed for agencies that request more intensive training regarding sexuality comfort and client counseling. A sexual history-taking guide and video is also being developed to teach staff which questions to ask to elicit accurate information from clients and demonstrate effective counseling.

Learning Objectives:
• Explain the rationale for integrating sexuality into reproductive health care. • Explain how communication about sexual pleasure can be linked to reducing sexual risk-taking.

Keywords: Sexuality, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the co-author of the curriculum
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.