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Female Sexual Medicine: Identifying Gaps To Better Prepare Pre-Clinical Medical Students

Purpose: To examine the current components of female sexual medicine incorporated into pre-clinical curriculum.


Background: In the United States, medical education on sexual medicine varies throughout the country and between institutions. With limited standardization, medical students and subsequent trainees have little to no training in how to approach a patient with concerns surrounding their sexual health. We identified a need to determine which components of sexual medicine, particularly female sexual medicine, are currently being covered in undergraduate medical education with the goal of proposing and developing standardized curriculum materials to be utilized by medical students during their pre-clinical education.


Methods: Curriculum materials on female sexual anatomy, physiology and pathology were collected from all seven medical schools in Chicago, Illinois. Courses covering topics on female sexual medicine varied between institutions due to differences in preclinical curriculum and coursework. To standardize our needs assessment, we identified specific components of anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, social sciences, and history and physical exam skills. Upon reviewing each institution’s preclinical educational materials, we assessed curriculum content for saturation of specific concepts within each of the above areas.


Results: Curriculum materials were collected from seven (n=7) total medical schools in the surrounding Chicago, Illinois area. Out of the 7 institutions, 4/7 discussed clitoral anatomy. In addition to the anatomy, 4/7 discussed the physiology of the female orgasm, 3/7 highlighted the rate and epidemiology of female sexual dysfunction (FSD), 3/7 included information on treatment for FSD, 1/7 taught a genitourinary physical exam specific to assessing FSD (external exam, internal exam, pelvic floor assessment), and 6/7 institutions included information on how to take a sexual history asking about sexual function, pleasure and satisfaction.


Discussions: Our focused needs assessment highlights the need for restructuring of curriculum as it pertains to female sexual medicine and FSD in undergraduate medical education. Next steps include proposing individual curricular recommendations to institutions, due to the variation in current curriculum design, as to how they can better teach on areas surrounding FSD, while also aiming to standardize what medical students are learning during their pre-clinical years.

Topics: CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting, 2023, Student, Faculty, Clerkship Director, Residency Director, Medical Knowledge, Practice-Based Learning & Improvement, UME, Assessment, Lecture, Advocacy, General Ob-Gyn, Sexuality,

General Information

Student,Faculty,Clerkship Director,Residency Director,
Medical Knowledge,Practice-Based Learning & Improvement,
Clinical Focus
General Ob-Gyn,Sexuality,

Author Information

Nicolette Codispoti, MS, MPH; Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine; Anna Petersen, BA; Elsa Nico, n/a; Jennifer Romanello, BS; Rachel Rubin, MD;  ,

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