“We need to intervene on various levels in order to succeed when it comes to young adults’ and teenagers sexual health. We need to educate our young people; they become sexually active young, but do not receive adequate sexual health support. The development of such health services needs to take the perspective of young people into account.” Says Sóley S. Bender, Professor and head of education on sexual health at the Faculty for Nursing and the National University Hospital of Iceland. Bender has researched the sexual health of young people in Iceland for decades.
“A nationwide survey on young people’s attitudes towards specialised service in the field of sexuality and reproduction was performed in 1996, the first of its kind in Iceland. This survey revealed that the average age for starting a sex life was 15.4 years, a relatively low age compared to neighbouring countries. Access to sex health services where confidentiality and respect is at the forefront was shown to be important to the young, according to the survey.”
Bender says that the findings of this survey were used to develop units for young people in accordance with wishes expressed by participants. Bender repeated the survey in 2009 with a similar age group. The conclusions showed that the average age of starting a sex life had risen slightly, to 15.8 years; however, findings regarding the importance of high quality medical service in the field were identical.
“We conclude that when developing service of this type for the young it is paramount to consider its quality. People must sense security, respect and trust in these conditions. Quality and professionalism must go hand in hand because this increases the likelihood that those who really need the service will seek it out.”