Sexual Health of Adolescent Girls

Authored by: S. Rachel Skinner , Cristyn Davies , Jennifer Marino , Jessica R. Botfield , Larissa Lewis

Routledge International Handbook of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138490260
eBook ISBN: 9781351035620
Adobe ISBN:


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Sexual health emerges as a key aspect of wellbeing during adolescence. Adolescents’ lives are marked by intense developmental changes, not limited to peak physical growth and cognitive maturation, but major transitions in psychological, social and relationship goals and strivings. For girls, the challenge to achieve sexual health and wellbeing often in spite of external cultural and societal barriers is one that must be supported by evidence-based policy and health resourcing. Here we present the case, using a health and human rights lens, for why adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health is a key indicator of women’s health globally. We present the current data on adolescent sexual behaviour, sexuality and gender diversity and health across countries. Vulnerabilities of gender and sexuality diverse young people are explored as are adolescent girls’ challenges in accessing sexual and health services. We discuss why inclusive comprehensive sexuality education is essential to supporting adolescent girls in achieving sexual health and why it should be universal. Effective interventions in schools and the community setting, which have been demonstrated to promote safe sexual behaviour, reduce sexually transmitted infections and unplanned adolescent pregnancies, are summarised.

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