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Sexual health elective
  1. Eilidh Jane Ferguson1,2
  1. 1University of Dundee School of Medicine, Dundee, UK
  2. 2University of St Andrews Faculty of Medicine, St Andrews, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eilidh Jane Ferguson, University of Dundee School of Medicine, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK; eilidhj.ferguson{at}

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I was provided the opportunity to complete my final year medical elective in sexual health across two Scottish health boards. My prior experience in female health during my year in general practice contrasts with the exposure gained in managing male patients during the elective, shedding light on societal taboos and stigmatisation, particularly regarding men who have sex with men. The scarcity of sexual health education during my time at university had left me feeling uncertain about various aspects of sexual health services, including contraception, despite an increasing cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and termination of pregnancies. My experience provided an insight into the disparities in accessibility and funding among health boards in Scotland and how this may impact the services available.

This elective opened up opportunities to learn about difficult consultations, including those involving abuse disclosure and discussions on sensitive topics like contraception and STIs. Despite initial challenges, the elective provided valuable opportunities for skill development in history-taking, examination and patient communication. Notably, experiences in different health boards elucidated pathways to specialise in sexual and reproductive healthcare, underscoring the scarcity of training posts in the field. Through my elective, I obtained a deeper understanding of sexual health’s complexity and the necessity to improve education, resources and exposure to this field for all medical students to address the emerging challenges and disparities in healthcare provision.

I was fortunate to do my elective in sexual health (SH) across two health boards in Scotland. SH is minimally covered in university teaching, despite 1319 persons per 100 000 aged 15–24 years diagnosed with Chlamydia trachomatis1 and a 50% increase in cases of gonorrhoea since 2021.2 Despite this, SH is still a taboo subject in society, even though the specialty manages contraception, abuse and coercion, menstruation, and menopause, as well as its more …

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  • Handling editor Anna Maria Geretti

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.