What Is Sexual Health?
Sexual health refers to different types of well-being associated with sexuality. This includes physical, social, mental, and emotional aspects of sexuality and sexual relationships. A person’s sexual health relies heavily on having access to sexual health education and care, being respected in terms of sexuality and gender, and being able to communicate about sexuality and sexual health topics in a safe environment. And sexual health professionals are key to all of these factors.
Why Is Sexual Health Important?
Sexual health is important because it plays a vital role in a person's quality of life since it affects mental, social, emotional, and physical well-being. It includes an individual's ability to embrace their sexuality and better understand how this affects their lives and relationships. It also includes understanding, and sometimes unlearning, attitudes and beliefs about sexuality.
Careers in Sexual Health
Pursuing a career in sexual health can be a rewarding experience that allows you to provide valuable help to others. Knowing more about sexual health careers can help you narrow your options and choose a path that fits your goals. There are many types of sexual health jobs available in today's workforce.
1. Health and Sex Educator
Sexual health educators plan and implement sexual health education programs for different populations and age groups. Some work in universities or public high schools, while others work in hospitals, clinics, community health centers, and nonprofit organizations. Sometimes these educators teach in online environments, such as educational forums. Health and sex educators supply information on a range of topics, including reproductive health, STIs (sexually transmitted infections), sexual orientation and gender identity, pleasure and relationships, and birth control.
2. Sex Therapist
When you want to provide more in-depth care for people experiencing problems related to sexual health, identity, or intimacy, becoming a sex therapist might be a good career path. Although therapists might handle similar problems and issues as counselors, they typically have a mental health license and additional training. This allows them to provide other types of guidance and support, like behavioral or prescriptive solutions. Some sexual health therapists work in private practice, while others work in outpatient settings, hospitals, or other health care settings. Others work in higher education or provide services in online environments.
3. Registered Nurse
When you’re looking for a role where you provide direct patient care, consider becoming a registered nurse (RN) in sexual health. RNs who work in sexual health typically offer services and care related to family planning, like contraception, but can also specialize in caring for specific populations. Sexual health RNs can work in different settings, including clinics and hospitals.
4. Community Health Specialist
When you want your career to focus on helping and supporting local communities, a job as a community health specialist might be right for you. Community sexual health specialists provide support and care related to sexuality and sexual health. They might educate communities on disease awareness and prevention, sexual development, and birth control options. They may also conduct health screenings or provide other sexual health guidance or referrals. These specialists often work for public health agencies.
5. Program Manager
If you have strong skills in leadership, being a program manager in sexual health might be a great career choice. Sexual health program managers might work for nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, community health centers, or health care facilities. These managers are responsible for planning, implementing, and overseeing sexual health programs and services. Their duties might include recruiting and supervising staff, working with other departments, gathering feedback, and developing proposals and ideas for sexual health programs.
6. Youth Services Coordinator
When looking for a sexual health career that offers the chance to help teens with issues like pregnancy, consider becoming a youth services coordinator. Youth services in sexual health involve educating teens on healthy sexuality. As a youth services coordinator, you might be responsible for planning and carrying out sexual health education programs for teens in general, LGBTQ youth, or other young populations.
Learn More Today
If you’re interested in building a career in sexual health, please get in touch with the U of M for more information. Our College of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a Master of Professional Studies in Sexual Health degree program as well as a Human Sexuality Certificate. The Human Sexuality Certificate can also be stacked with either our Sex Therapy Certificate or Transgender and Gender-Diverse Health Certificate, which can be applied toward earning a Master of Professional Studies in Sexual Health. Each of these programs provides students with the education needed for a career in sexual health.
AASECT, Career in Sexual Health
Practical Adult Insights, "What Are the Different Types of Sexual Health Jobs?"
Practical Adult Insights, "What does a Sexual Health Nurse do?"
Centers for Disease Control, "What Works: Sexual Health Education"