This paper focuses on the examination of sexual and reproductive health literacy’s role in the social adaptation of women. Based on the critical literature review, the importance of the topic is introduced from the point of the current situation.
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Many young girls and women tend to lack basic knowledge and skills regarding their bodies, which leads to a range of adverse issues. In particular, difficulties in communication with partners, inability to create strong family relationships, early pregnancies, as well as sexually-transmitted diseases may be noted among the most common consequences. This study determines that the mentioned health literacy is likely to improve women’s opportunities to successfully adapt to society. The effectiveness of sex education may be traced via females’ awareness of gender identity, sexuality, and the increased quality of life.
In the 21st century, the problem of sexual and reproductive health literacy and its impact on women’s adaptation to society became critical. It is largely associated with the sexual revolution – the age of sexual debut fell drastically, and teenagers began to initiate sexual activity much earlier than before. As a result, unregulated sex, the threat of unwanted pregnancies and forced abortions, as well as infection with sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS have increased (Scull, Malik, & Kupersmidt, 2014). Along with these consequences, women tend to encounter psychological discomfort, misunderstanding from others, and a lack of knowledge about their body functioning. In this connection, it is essential to examine the role of sexual and reproductive health literacy in the social adaptation of women.
In the context of the qualitative research design, the literature review will be used as a key method of the study. The electronic databases will be searched for scholarly articles published recently in peer-reviewed journals. After that, the most relevant ones will be selected to be used in the given study. The presentation of the results will be followed by the discussion of findings and their critical interpretation.
The problem of sexual literacy is one of the most relevant in the general context of women’s health. The specificity of the process of socialization of females makes it possible to consider such education to be legitimate from the very adolescence (LaRosa, Alexander, & Bader, 2016). The current situation is complicated by a common, often concealed, but quite a certain feeling of insecurity about matters relating to sexuality, which leads to an unwillingness to touch on this topic or restrict oneself by using general phrases or abstract reasoning (LaRosa et al., 2016). The breach of normal communication, unnecessary stress in interpersonal relationships, distorted self-esteem, and vague gender identity are only some of the signs that signalize a lack of sexual and reproductive health literacy.
The fact is that sexuality and reproductive health are a rather important and complicated part of both the personal and social life of a woman. There are various prejudices about the roles of women in society. Also, the evidence shows that the lack of sexual health literacy leads to early pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases. In this regard, LaRosa et al. (2016) note that not only about health and methods of contraception should be clarified but also dating issues and the cultural characteristics associated with the intimate life.
Among the negative impacts on women, it is also possible to identify divorce as sometimes the absence of a conversation about sexuality in a couple leads to resentment and accumulated anger (LaRosa et al., 2016). This causes violence as men do not understand boundaries, and women do not realize their rights.
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Some experts such as Svanemyr, Amin, Robles, and Greene (2015) argue that sex education works best when it begins in adolescence. By discussing important issues in a comfortable environment instead of merely talking about the structure of their genital organs, it is possible to achieve significant results. Svanemyr et al. (2015) consider that the establishment of a trusting atmosphere and honest conversation about the ethical and psychological aspects of relationships will help women in their social adaptation (Figure 1 and Table 2).
Namely, they will learn about respect for personal boundaries, harmony, pleasure, sexual orientation, and ideas about one’s own body. The study of Chicago women’s experience proves that the sexual education of females can be very effective in reducing the prevalence of risk behaviors and in ensuring proper decision-making regarding contraception (Yee & Simon, 2014).
The review of the literature shows that various modern means of communication may be used to provide women with sexual and reproductive health literacy. For example, Scull et al. (2014) examine the role of media as a comprehensive teaching tool and conclude that mass media is frequently preferred by adolescents to obtain new information (see Tables 1). Accordingly, the authors suggest that this method is a quite feasible and effective way to assist women in their adaptation to society.
The system of sex education is to be considered the most progressive in many Western countries, including the US. Today, it involves a discussion of different aspects of close relationships between people and everything that can affect them such as talking about alcohol, discussing gender issues, and women’s views about their bodies (LaRosa et al., 2016). There are many programs and models aimed at promoting health, preventing diseases, and providing adequate assistance to women. The clinical practice shows that sexual education mainly leads to responsible behaviors of females.
Society recognizes the rights and needs of female adolescents to receive assistance in solving problems related to contraception (Yee & Simon, 2014). Society should also teach adolescent girls to be equal in discussing and solving problems as the responsible party to the decisions made. It seems essential to emphasize that the sexual behaviors of young people are constantly changing and characterize the time and society in which they live. The fact is that the health care system contributes to the subsequent continuous monitoring and support of the sexual behavior of this target group.
The evidence shows that reproductive and health literacy promotes the postponement of the onset of sexual activity and a decrease in the number of sexual partners of young females. The comprehensive sexual education instills communication skills between women and their partners as well as generally contributes to a healthier lifestyle (Svanemyr et al., 2015). One may state that women who have adequate sexual literacy tend to be more sensitive in selecting a sexual partner and building healthy relationships. Such women tend to prevent sexual violence or report about it without fear of being insulted by others. Most importantly, they show greater ability to discuss reproductive issues with their partners in the course of planning children or sharing some concerns regarding health issues. In its turn, reproductive literacy leads to awareness of social norms, gender specifics, and a clear understanding of the roles of men and women.
LaRosa, J. H., Alexander, W., & Bader, H. (2016). New dimensions in women’s health (7th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Scull, T. M., Malik, C. V., & Kupersmidt, J. B. (2014). A media literacy education approach to teaching adolescents comprehensive sexual health education. The Journal of Media Literacy Education, 6(1), 1-14.
Svanemyr, J., Amin, A., Robles, O. J., & Greene, M. E. (2015). Creating an enabling environment for adolescent sexual and reproductive health: A framework and promising approaches. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(1), 7-14.
Yee, L. M., & Simon, M. A. (2014). The role of health literacy and numeracy in contraceptive decision-making for urban Chicago women. Journal of Community Health, 39(2), 394-399.