The Role of Medical Students in Sex Education

(Dainis Graveris, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Deisha Laksmitha Ayomi, a medical doctor at Emergency Hospital for COVID-19 in Surabaya, Indonesia. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

In some countries, especially developing countries, sex education is a taboo topic to discuss. Adolescents are a vulnerable age so they need to be given proper guidance especially on topics related to health. Many youths get some misinformation from untrusted sources such as from social media that prioritizes profit over the truth of information. This encourages adolescents, especially women, to make wrong decisions for their health which will have impacts on their families. Sexual education is often considered the same as a biology subject.

Sexual education is not only about biology aspects but also discusses social and emotional aspects. Until now, in many developing countries, sexual education has not become a school curriculum. In Europe, sexual education has been taught from an early age starting from the age of 5 years by trained teachers. Material related to sexual education must be adapted to age. Regardless of whether they are sexually active or not, they have the right to know their rights and consequences of what they do.         

According to UNESCO, only 34% of young people can describe HIV prevention and transmission accurately. When I was in my internship in the hospital, I met many women who had limited knowledge about sex education, so they were not aware of their health.

This will have negative impacts, such as an increase in the incidence of HIV and AIDS, unsafe abortion, sexual harassment, and a high maternal mortality rate. When I had a night shift in the hospital, there was a young patient who came to the hospital because of premature rupture of membranes. After I asked further, the patient had never done antenatal care before. The health of pregnant women will have a big impact on the health of the fetus. With regular check-ups, we can take preventive steps to avoid risks related to pregnancy.

While studying in medicine, we were taught to provide some education related to sexual education, such as sexually transmitted diseases, maternal and infant health, contraception, and discrimination. We are also equipped with how to give education appropriately by involving empathy. As health workers, we are not allowed to be judgmental.

There are many activities that we hold to reduce the knowledge gap in sexual education, especially for adolescents. We also follow up if they want to ask further questions. They are very enthusiastic to discuss during the event. Apart from that, we also often hold seminars with people who are experts in the field of sexual education. Having an open discussion will show them that sexual education is no longer something that should not be discussed.

We also hope that the participants who have come could deliver the information they have got from the seminar to their family and friends. It is time to keep reminding us of how important it is to make responsible choices regarding our health.

About the author

Ms. Deisha Laksmitha Ayomi is a medical doctor at Emergency Hospital for COVID-19 in Surabaya, Indonesia

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