The Marginalization of Sexuality in the Medical Field: The Reality & Why It Matters
Sexuality is a natural part of overall human health. However, the medical industry has marginalized it for years. Recently, society’s perspective of sexuality has been shifting from a taboo to what it truly is —totally normal. Still, sexuality continues to be widely misunderstood, and as a result, misrepresented in the medical world and within society at large. Today, we’re discussing the reality of this marginalization, the consequences, and why learning about sexuality is so important.
Sexual Health Services
The marginalization of sexuality in the medical field takes several forms. To begin, sexual health services in the United States are seriously lacking. While it’s the norm to schedule regular check-ups and screenings with doctors such as a primary care provider or dentist, sexual health screenings are far less common. Because they aren’t openly discussed or encouraged, many people miss out on receiving proper sexual health care. This includes mental sexual health issues that go ignored due to a lack of available resources. Disparities involving race, gender, and socioeconomic status add another layer to the issue. For example, certain communities are at higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases, yet they lack the resources for testing or treatment.
Due to the marginalization of sexual health, sexual education falls short in many schools around the United States. The type of sexual health education young people receive can vary greatly depending on their location. For example, some school systems teach abstinence-only programs. These students don’t receive information on family planning or protective methods to keep them safe from sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). Without proper sexual health education, people remain misinformed about their sexual health, their sexual safety, their family-planning options, and more.
The marginalization of sexual health can also result in improper treatment methods. Patients may seek solutions to their sexual health problems by visiting with medical specialists. However, some sexual health problems are psychological, and doctors who aren’t in the field are not equipped to treat these types of issues. The stigma attached to human sexuality only complicates this further, as people may feel too ashamed to seek the right kind of psychological help they need. Unfortunately, this means they may continue to suffer.
As a result of the marginalization of sexuality in the medical field, people suffer. Those with STIs may go without treatment, and some may not even be diagnosed, because they don’t have access to adequate health services. Additionally, people may contract diseases or become pregnant unintentionally as a result of a severe lack of sexual education. The lack of mental sexual health treatments can lead to ruined relationships—couples who may have benefitted from sexual therapy end up slitting, and families fall apart because they can’t access the services they need. The marginalization of sexuality also perpetuates the idea that victims shouldn’t speak out about their abuse The treatment of sexuality as taboo contributes to a culture of shame, harassment, and abuse in which wrongful actions are excused, so victims continue to remain silent.
Sexuality is a basic part of our humanity, and it shouldn’t cause shame. Instead, human sexuality should be celebrated and openly discussed. People must receive the proper medical resources, education, and tools they need to live happy and healthy lives, and that isn’t possible without including sexuality in the conversation. To find out more about sexual health, reach out to us.