Male sexuality-related concerns: what use of the internet?

TitleMale sexuality-related concerns: what use of the internet?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsAkré, C, Surís, J-C
Accession Numberserval:BIB_53668D455180

Purpose: Although young males encounter sexually-related concerns, they are mostly absent from specialized services. Our objective is to assess whether the internet is used by boys to find answers to these types of problems and questions.
Methods: In the context of a qualitative study assessing young males' barriers to access sexual and reproductive health facilities, we conducted two focus groups gathering 12 boys aged 17-20. Discussions were triggered through the presentation of four vignettes corresponding to questions posted by 17-20 year old boys and girls on an information website for adolescents (, concerning various sexual dysfunction situations. In order to avoid having to talk about their own experience, participants were asked what they would do in those cases.
Results: In general, the internet was mentioned quite thoroughly as a means of searching for information through research engines and a place to address professionals for advice.Within the hierarchy of consultation possibilities, the internet was given the first place as a way to deal with these types of problems presenting many advantages: (1) the internet enables to maintain intimacy; (2) it is anonymous (use of a pseudo); (3) it avoids having to confront someone face-to-face with personal problems which can be embarrassing and challenging for one's pride; (4) it is free; and (5) it is accessible at all times. In other words, participants value the internet as a positive tool to avoid many barriers which prevent offline consultations to take place. Most participants consider the internet at least as a first step in trying to solve a problem; for instance, by better defining the seriousness of a problem and judging if it is worth consulting a doctor. However, despite the positive qualities of the internet, they do put forward the importance of having specialists answering questions, trustworthiness, and being followed-up by the same person. Participants suggested that a strategy to break down barriers for boys to consult in face-to-face settings is to have a consultation on the internet as a first step which could then guide the person to an in-person consultation if necessary.
Conclusions: The internet as a means of obtaining information or consulting received high marks overall. Although the internet cannot replace an in-person consultation, the screen and the keyboard have the advantage of not involving a face-to-face encounter and raise the possibility of discussing sexual problems anonymously and in private. The internet tools together with other new technologies should continue to develop in a secure manner as a space providing prevention messages and to become an easy access door to sexual and reproductive health services for young men, which can then guide youths to appropriate resource persons. Sources of support: This study was supported by the Maurice Chalumeau Foundation, Switzerland.


Citation Key / SERVAL ID4914


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