The demand for personalized and empathetic health services has never been greater. Many health professionals are left wondering how they can promote good sexual health among all their patients. By offering sexual health education and a wide range of services, health care providers and community health professionals can increase positive patient outcomes.

1. Education and Awareness Campaigns

Sexual education and awareness campaigns can help provide the public with factual and relatable information about their sexual health. This allows them to develop a better understanding of what proper sexual health entails and to identify signs or symptoms of a larger issue.

Types of Sexual Education and Awareness Campaigns

Health care providers and community health leaders can develop a wide range of sexual education and awareness campaigns that provide community members with a comprehensive overview of sexual health. For example, the California Department of Public Health has developed multiple sexual education and awareness campaigns, centered on topics such as:

  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) signs and symptoms
  • Testing availability for STIs
  • Sexual health vaccine awareness

In addition to campaigns designed to raise awareness about sexually transmitted infections and relevant vaccines, community health organizations and health care providers can create materials that raise awareness about the importance of positive, consensual sexual relationships. According to the Harvey Institute, these health promotion models allow people to understand what a healthy sexual relationship looks like in practice. The Institute notes that the six principles of sexual health include:

  • Consent
  • Honesty
  • Nonexploitation
  • Common values
  • Protection
  • Pleasure

The Key to a Successful Reproductive Health and Awareness Campaign

Sexual health and awareness campaigns can be one of the most effective patient education techniques, but it's important to launch these campaigns in a way that is accessible and relatable. By leveraging the best health communication strategies with a variety of tools and media, you can create a successful reproductive health and awareness campaign.

Some of the best strategies include:

  • using high-impact visuals with simple messaging.
  • providing information about how an individual can take action.
  • communicating the material in a variety of ways.
  • creating materials in multiple languages.

2. Routine Screenings and Confidential Consultations

Health professionals who specialize in sexual health and work directly with patients can improve sexual health outcomes by focusing on routine screenings and confidential consultations. Patient confidentiality in health care has always been critical to providing patients with effective, personalized care—but it's particularly crucial when it comes to sexual health, a sensitive and personal topic to discuss.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), health care providers should focus on the Talk, Test, Treat strategy in order to provide the best possible sexual health screenings and consultations.


Prior to discussing any symptoms a patient may be experiencing or reviewing testing recommendations, a health care provider should talk with their patient about their sexual health history. Even if this may feel awkward or uncomfortable, the CDC notes that most patients want their providers to ask them questions about their sexual health.

Sexual health care providers can engage in open and honest discussion with their patients by:

  • inviting patients into an inclusive and private space where they can feel comfortable discussing their feelings and experiences.
  • normalizing routine questions about sexual health and asking all questions in a clinical, nonjudgmental way.
  • providing patients with time to answer a question and rephrasing or explaining it if they seem unsure about answering.


Routine STI screenings are recommended as part of any routine sexual health care consultation, regardless of specific symptoms a patient may or may not be presenting. According to the CDC, STI testing is recommended for all individuals between the ages of 13 and 64, especially if they are sexually active.


In the event that testing reveals a sexually transmitted infection, the provider should treat the patient as quickly and effectively as possible, as well as provide additional information about further prevention.

3. Integrating Sexual Health Into Holistic health care

For far too long, sexual health was not discussed as part of a comprehensive health care plan. This left many patients not understanding what good sexual health involved or what they could do to improve their sexual health. When health care providers make an effort to integrate sexual health into a holistic health care routine, patients can feel more comfortable discussing it and more empowered to take control of their sexual well-being.

According to the Sexual Medicine Society of North America, the following factors can be discussed to improve a person's overall sexual drive, function, and performance, ultimately giving them the power to improve their sexual health.

  • Nutrition – By enjoying a well-balanced diet, patients are better able to regulate their hormones, which naturally improves both libido and performance.
  • Exercise – Research shows that physical exercise on a regular basis improves sexual health by increasing a person's desire and function.
  • Sleep – Individuals who enjoy restful, restorative sleep are more likely to have improved sexual health overall. Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased desire.
  • Stress – When a person is able to manage the stress in their lives, they will be more present and interested in sexual activity.
  • Mental health – Individuals suffering from depression or anxiety may find that it adversely affects their sexual health and well-being.

By prioritizing sexual health as part of an overall holistic health care routine, providers can help patients feel more comfortable discussing any sexual health issues they may be experiencing and improve their outcomes.

4. Using Digital Tools and Social Media

Sexual health care providers and community health professionals can use digital tools and social media to launch effective awareness campaigns and offer patients support. Digital health literacy (sometimes referred to as eHealth literacy) is defined as an individual's ability to retain and understand health information from electronic sources. Today's population is becoming increasingly reliant on this type of health care material.

According to the CDC, 58% of providers have a digital health literacy strategy in place, but it's recommended they work to improve that statistic in order to reach as many people as possible. Through digital tools and social media, health care providers can provide engaging and informative material about sexual health, sexually transmitted infections, positive sexual relationships, and sexual identity.

5. Training and Continuing Education for Health Professionals

Health professional development is essential for all providers, regardless of their area of expertise or specialty. However, sexual health professional development is increasingly vital to a provider's ability to offer personalized and effective care.

According to LinkedIn, sexual health professional development programs provide many benefits.

  • A better understanding of sexual health and factors that can influence a person's sexual health and well-being.
  • Additional knowledge about consent and its role in sexual health.
  • An understanding of the deep connection between mental health and sexual health, as well as holistic care that helps patients improve both facets of their health and well-being.
  • An opportunity to grow their practice and make it a more inclusive, culturally aware space for all patients.
  • An opportunity to integrate comprehensive sexuality education into their practice, regardless of the kind of care that they provide.

Those who are interested in specializing in sexual health may want to consider an advanced degree, such as a Master of Professional Studies in Sexual Health (which can be approached initially as a degree or as various certificates and courses “stacked” together). This type of program covers a wide range of topics—sexual pleasure and intimacy, trauma-informed care, gender-diverse sexual health, etc.—allowing you to develop the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in sexual health.

6. Partnerships with Community Organizations

To reduce the stigma associated with sexual health care and normalize conversations about sexuality, sexual health professionals should work to build partnerships with community organizations. These partnerships can help sexual health professionals access different populations or groups within a community and provide them with the factual, relatable, and necessary information they need about sexual health.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these community partnerships are critical to expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care. The AAP notes that some of the best ways to form these partnerships include:

  • contacting local schools to see if you can provide age-appropriate materials from your sexual health and wellness campaigns to parents or students in the community.
  • offering to provide discounted sexual health and wellness services for those in the community who may not be able to access or afford them on a regular basis. This may include free, routine testing or free sexual health consultation appointments.
  • working with the public health department to create an awareness campaign revolving around the importance of consent and what healthy sexual relationships look like.

Forging these partnerships and taking a collaborative approach to sexual health can help you make an impact in your local community and highlight the importance of good sexual health.


Learn More about Earning a Master’s Degree in Sexual Health

The University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a fully online Master of Professional Studies in Sexual Health degree that allows health professionals to develop expertise in human sexuality. By emphasizing sexual health as a core component of a person's total health and well-being, this program equips students with the actionable skills and in-depth knowledge required to specialize in sexual health services.

Request more information about our degree programs today.