Sexual health consultations record 139 percent growth, men account for 46 pc, women 54 pc
Young Health Programme, pharma giant AstraZeneca’s global community investment initiative, conducted a study which found out that only 45 percent young men and 28 percent young women have comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS and its prevention in India.
The state of prevention of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for both genders is very low since no proper medical assistance is availed in the country.
According to the study, less than 10 percent of young Indian men and women learn about sex from adults including teachers, health care professionals, or family members. Sexual and reproductive health is a topic that a majority of Indians are still not comfortable discussing or are ignorant of. The stigma attached to these topics are the root cause for other larger issues people, especially women, face every day.
In light of such statistics, Bengaluru-based healthcare startup Practo conducted an internal study to understand how India sees sexual and reproductive health and goes about seeking help.
The study suggested, since last year, there has been a 139 percent growth in sexual health consults. Users prefer online consultation for sexual health queries as it is an easily accessible, private, and trustworthy option that can be done from the comfort of one’s home.
Gayathri D Kamath, Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Fortis Bengaluru said that there has been a significant change in the way Indians, especially women, approach sexual health. She added that there has been a constant rise in the number of people, across all age groups, seeking information and medical help online regarding sexual and reproductive health.
"Earlier, couples would shy away from talking about sexual problems for several reasons. They now acknowledge the issues and seek proper assistance in the early stages from specialists which helps in further treatments. Digital platforms like Practo have played a major role in increasing awareness of the different facets of sexual health and in helping people seek professional help, instead of suffering silently."
Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad witnessed significant growth in the number of online sexologist consultations compared to the previous year. People aged between 21 and 30 years contributed to 72 percent of the overall e-consults on sexual health. The top topics of discussion revolved around abortion, unplanned pregnancy, and vaginal discharge.
A few insights include:
- Sexual and Gynecology accounted for 41 percent of all e-consults received last year
- About 46 percent of all sexual health-related consults came from men, while 54 percent were from women
- Seventy-two percent of the queries came from people aged between 21-30 years, followed by people from the 31-40 age group
- T7 cities witnessed a growth of 196 percent for sexual consults year-on-year
- Sexual health has been one of the topmost concerns for people from non-metro cities contributing to 30 percent of all consults on sexual health
- The top queries discussed were abortion, unplanned pregnancy, masturbation, and premature ejaculation.
Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer at Practo, said,
"e-consults are empowering patients and practitioners across the country by improving access to quality health services, combating stigma, and discrimination. Most people in India brush aside symptoms, especially those of sexual and reproductive health, due to societal biases and/or shame, leading to worsening of the condition and low quality of life."
(Edited by Suman Singh)