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Women's Sexual Health Survey

About the Suvery

ARHP and HealthyWomen have partnered on Sex and a Healthier You, an initiative which seeks to educate women about healthy sexual function and to help health care providers address this issue with their patients more comfortably. As part of this initiative, ARHP and HealthyWomen commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct two online surveys. These surveys – one targeted to female consumers and a second to health care providers – explored behaviors and compared perceptions regarding female sexuality and sexual dysfunction. Additional foci of this research included augmenting previous research conducted among female consumers concerning their attitudes, behaviors and perceptions regarding their sexuality, and learning more about sexual issues women may experience, including lack of desire, pain with intercourse, inability to become aroused, inability to have an orgasm, excessive desire, and vaginal dryness.

The goal of this research was to deepen ARHP and HealthyWomen’s existing knowledge to further enable these organizations to foster education, outreach and understanding to help women to feel comfortable with their sexuality and to empower them to communicate openly with their health care providers about sex and sexuality issues.

Methodology/Results

Consumer Survey

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive between March 4-13, 2009 among 1,200 women aged 18-50 who reside in the U.S. Surveys were conducted in both English and Spanish, with a total of 130 surveys completed in Spanish. Surveys were weighted as need to reflect the composition of the female US population aged 18-50 year old. The survey was 16 minutes in length.

Provider Survey

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive between September 15-28, 2009 among 304 health care providers who practice in the U.S. Of the 304 health care providers who participated in this survey, 200 were physicians and 104 were nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or nurse midwives. Surveys were weighted as need to reflect the composition of the US population of physicians and nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse midwives. The survey was 15 minutes in length.

Quick Facts

  • Women ranked having a healthy sex life higher than career satisfaction, home ownership, traveling and social life but lower than financial security, physical health, mental health, marriage, and having children.
  • The majority of women surveyed (70%) say they have experienced a sexual health issue. However, fewer than one in five (18%) of these women actually sought the help of a health care provider.
  • When asked how important their sex life is to their relationship satisfaction, 82% of women say it is important and 41% say it is very or extremely important. Yet, 38% of women say they did not think their sexual health issue was important enough to visit a health care provider.
  • Among the women who visited a health care provider regarding their sexual health issue, women reported that less than half of the providers asked questions, performed exams, provided other advice or suggested treatment.

This survey was developed with the support of a sponsorship from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.