HEALTH / WELL-BEING

The Elephant in the Bedroom: Sexual Functioning in Military Populations

Article

This policy brief provides an overview of the problem of sexual functioning in military populations, discusses challenges associated with assessment, present available treatment options, and provide recommendations for applying the key findings.

Abstract

Sexual health refers broadly to sexually related physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being, and also emphasizes absence of both disease and dysfunction.1,2 This comprehensive conceptualization emphasizes that sexual health is a vital component of overall quality of life (QOL).3,4 However, the comprehensive nature of this conceptualization of sexual health shows the complexity of fully assessing sexual health without breaking it into key components. This brief focuses on the sexual functioning (SF) aspect of sexual health in military populations, including military personnel, veterans, and military spouses. Military personnel have an increased exposure to risk factors for sexual dysfunction (SD), which equates to a higher likelihood of experiencing SD.5 Both the physical and mental health problems that some military personnel report experiencing are significantly associated with sexual functioning problems – directly, as a result of the physical or mental health problem or indirectly, through medication or other mechanisms. Currently, sexual functioning in military personnel is an understudied area and much is unknown. Here we provide a brief overview of the problem, discuss challenges associated with assessment, present available treatment options, and provide recommendations for applying the key findings.

Full Reference

Wilcox, S. L., Schuyler, A. and Hassan, A. M., 2015. The Elephant in the Bedroom: Sexual Functioning in Military Populations. CIR policy brief.