Age: A woman’s age can impact a healthcare provider’s decision to complete a sexual history. If a woman’s age is young and she hasn’t become sexually-active, it may not be appropriate to take a history. For women approaching or in the midst of menopause or who are currently sexually active, a complete sexual history may be necessary to identify any possible risks.
Race: A woman’s race can also impact a healthcare provider’s decision to complete a sexual history. A sexual history may help determine if certain racial or ethnic groups are at higher-risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). Additionally, cultural beliefs and values around sexuality may impact a woman’s willingness to disclose information about her sexual history.
Lifestyle: A woman’s lifestyle, including her sexual behaviors and practices, can impact a healthcare provider’s decision to complete a sexual history. If a woman is involved in multiple relationships or has high-risk behaviors such as having several sexual partners, a complete sexual history may be necessary to determine her STI risk.
Demographics: Other demographic factors, such as socioeconomic status, education level, and geographic location, can impact a healthcare provider’s decision to complete a sexual history. Women with limited healthcare access or those who reside in an area where STIs are more prevalent may need a complete sexual history.
A sexual history is very important to all healthcare providers, regardless of the woman’s age, race and lifestyle. An extensive sexual history will help to assess potential risks and concerns, offer appropriate education and counseling, and enable the delivery of care and treatment. Healthcare providers must also be open and empathetic to the cultural beliefs and practices of individuals and cultures regarding sexuality.