Assessment of Women's Sexual Health Using a Holistic, Patient-Centered Approach


Address correspondence to Ruth Zielinski, CNM, PhD, Bronson School of Nursing, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5345. E-mail:


Sexual health problems are common in women and have the potential to affect all aspects of their lives. These issues can include diminished or lack of desire for sex, difficulty with arousal and sexual pleasure, inability to orgasm, and pain with sex. Causes of sexual health issues can be complex and multifaceted; therefore, a holistic perspective, in which all potential factors are considered, is warranted. Despite the prevalence of women's sexual health issues, discussion by providers is often absent or limited to avoidance of sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancies. Health care providers may feel they do not have the time or resources to address sexual health problems. This article provides a sexual health assessment approach using a model of sexual health whereby sociocultural factors are given priority, followed by factors related to partner and relationships, psychological factors, and finally medical factors.