Sexual health is an important aspect of quality of life, yet both healthcare professionals and patients might hesitate to bring up the topic during appointments. Our study investigated obstetrician-gynecologists’ (OB/GYNs’) self-reported competences in discussing and treating sexual problems, as well as the barriers to bringing up the subject. An additional aim was to evaluate the need for continuing education in sexual medicine.
A web-based questionnaire was sent to the members of The Finnish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (n = 1212). The survey was completed by 328 respondents (275 specialists and 53 OB/GYN residents). Their background information (gender, age, education, occupational status, daily number of patients, and daily number of patients with sexual health issues) was assessed. The questionnaire included four fields: (A) self-reported competence in discussing and treating patients with sexual problems (three questions), (B) the barriers to bringing up sexual problems with patients (nine questions), (C) the source of education in sexual medicine (two questions), and (D) the need for education in sexual medicine (two questions).
Most of the OB/GYNs self-reported their competence to be good in discussing sexual problems, but poor in treating patients’ sexual problems. The male OB/GYNs reported better competence than did the females. Several barriers were identified-most frequently, “shortness of the appointment time” (76%), “lack of knowledge about sexual medicine” (75%), and “lack of experience with sexual medicine” (74%). Older OB/GYNs and male OB/GYNs reported fewer barriers. The majority of the respondents considered their previous education in sexual medicine to be insufficient, especially in medical school (95%), but also in residency (83%), and they reported a need for additional education.
Our study indicated several barriers that hindered OB/GYNs from assessing sexual problems during appointments. Although OB/GYNs reported a good competence in discussing sexual problems, they reported a poor competence in treating them. Their previous education in sexual medicine was rated as insufficient, and continuing education was desired. The information provided by our study can be used for improving and organizing education in sexual medicine, which is crucial for diminishing the barriers to discussing and treating sexual problems.

© 2022 The Authors. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology (NFOG).