Background Young people are vulnerable in relation to sexual health. Young men are especially so as they attend the general practitioner less often than females and are less likely to be offered testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Access to good quality health information and education is a cornerstone of primary prevention yet we know very little about how, where and why young people obtain information about sexual health.
Methods One-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with 35 male students aged 16 -–19 years from at one regional and one metropolitan Victorian educational institution for trade skills until data saturation was reached. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed.
Results The young men were generally poorly informed about sexual health. Their existing knowledge mainly came from school based sexual health education, which while valued, was generally poorly recalled and provided only a narrow scope of physiological information. Young men seek sexual health information from various sources including family, the Internet, friends, and pornography, with information from the latter three sources perceived as unreliable. GPs were seen as a source of trustworthy information but were not accessed for this purpose due to embarrassment. Young men preferred the GP to initiate such conversations. A desire for privacy and avoidance of embarrassment heavily influenced young men’s preferences and behaviours in relation to sexual health information seeking.
Conclusions The current available sources of sexual health information for young men are failing to meet their needs. Results identify potential improvements to school based sexual education and online resources and describe a need for innovative technology based sources of sexual health education.