Men and their doctors must be encouraged to talk openly about sexual matters, says Professor Geoff Hackett, Chairman of the British Society for Sexual Medicine, who says that Society pressurises men to behave and perform like James Bond, and this makes men feel uncomfortable when talking about sexual health issues including infections and performance. Women have more opportunity to talk about these issues as they are more likely to access medical help for smear tests, contraception and before and during pregnancy.
“There is a public perception that men have to be ready for it at any time”, says Hackett, “so everything is always said in a jokey way”. A recent survey says that only 13% of British men have spoken to their GP about their sexual health. Hackett also calls for improved sex education in schools to help young people explore their feelings and what happens in real sexual relationships, as opposed to those seen in films and soaps. He explains: “I think that it’s important that, when it is taught in schools, it is taught in the right way. There has to be attention on sex and relationships, not just the biological side of things starting with rabbits or newts…It always has to be in the context of long term relationships, intimacy and not just the sexual acts. If family life is brought in, even better”. Hackett concedes, however, that schools have a “difficult balance” to strike due to the ethnic, religious and cultural differences of UK students, “I understand why they don’t want to be seen to be over doing it”, he said of schools.
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