Who goes to a sexual health clinic? Gender differences in service utilisation

N Z Med J. 2008 Dec 12;121(1287):44-9.


Aim: Our aim was to review utilisation of the Hamilton Sexual Health Clinic (Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand) with regard to gender differences.

Methods: Notes of those attending during 9 months (1 February 2008-31 October 2008) were reviewed--and their demographic details, source of referral, reasons for attending, and diagnostic coding data were compared. In addition, Waikato Hospital laboratory provided Chlamydia trachomatis test results for the study period. Data was analysed for gender differences.

Results: Overall, more women attended than men. By age bands, more 15-19 year old women than men attended (23.3% vs 12.5%, p<0.001) but, for all age-bands 20 years and older, men were at least as likely to attend as women. Further, for those aged 25-29 years (20.3% vs 17%, p<0.5) and 45 years and older (11.9% vs 7.4%, p<0.001), more men than women of the same-age band were seen. Men who attended were more likely to self-refer (58.5% vs 43%, p<0.001) and less likely to be asymptomatic (30.3% vs 38.4%, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Our data suggest men aged 20 years and older are at least, if not more, likely than women to attend a sexual health clinic for sexual health concerns. However, there appears to be under-utilisation by younger men. To improve sexual health for men and women, help-seeking must be timely and effective. We need to better understand and address sexual healthcare barriers for young men.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Community Health Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / ethnology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / therapy*