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Sexual health survey


Bandolier 65 featured a survey on sexual health in the USA. Another survey [1] examined sexual problems in the UK.


Four diverse general practices in England participated, and from each register a random sample of 1000 people was selected of men and women in different age groups between the ages of 18 and 75. A questionnaire was piloted and then sent to people selected from the registers, with a letter from the practice emphasising the importance of the work and the anonymity of the questionnaire. Questionnaires for men and women were different.


The response rate was 39% for men and 49% for women, with 1768 responses in total. One third of responders had not had sex at all during the previous three months, and one fifth reported having sex more than once a week.

The current and lifetime sexual problems reported by women and men are shown in the Table. For women, vaginal dryness and never or rarely experiencing a climax were common. For men common problems were getting and maintaining an erection, and premature ejaculation.

Table: Common sexual problems in women and men in the UK

  Percent with sexual problem
Problem Current Lifetime


Never or rarely climax 27  
Pain during intercourse 18 45
Vaginal dryness 28 49
Problems with arousal 17  
Sex never or rarely pleasant 18  
Any of these 41  
Any lifetime problem   68


Difficulty getting erection 21 23
Difficulty maintaining erection 24 25
Either or both of these 26 39
Premature ejaculation 14 31
Sex never or rarely pleasant 9  
Any of these 34  
Any lifetime problem   54

About half the responders said they would like to receive help for sexual problems, but only about 5% of those who wanted help had received it. Given an opportunity to choose whence such help would be most welcome, there was a preference for family doctor, family planning or well (wo)man clinic or trained marriage guidance counsellor.


These results are strikingly similar to those found in the US survey in Bandolier 65 . It highlights a high prevalence of sexual problems, with a gap between need and provision.


  1. KM Dunn, PR Croft, GI Hackett. Sexual problems: a study of the prevalence and need for health care in the general population. Family Practice 1998 15: 519-24.
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