Female adolescents’ experiences and perceptions regarding sexual health education in Iranian schools: A qualitative content analysis

Mojgan Javadnoori, Robab Latifnejad Roudsari, Marzieh Hasanpour, Seyyed Mohammad Mehdi Hazavehei, Ali Taghipour


Background: Despite so many unmet sexual health education (SHE) needs of adolescents, socio-cultural challenges have caused this issue to be ignored in different scoieties. This study investigated Iranian female adolescents’ experiences and perceptions with respect to SHE that they received at schools , and what they really needed, expected, and preferred.

Materials and Methods: In this qualitative study, seven focus group discussions (44 adolescents) and 13 individual in-depth interviews were conducted among female adolescents aged 14–18 in Mashhad and Ahvaz, Iran, to explore adolescents’ experiences and perceptions towards SHE in Iranian schools. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.

Results: Analyzing adolescents’ perspectives and experiences revealed their great dissatisfaction with SHE in schools. Emerged categories included: lack of obligation and priority for SHE, sexual reticence and evading, making adolescents frightened of sexual issues, inconsistency of SHE with adolescents’ needs, unqualified educators, and lack of appropriate educational materials.

Conclusion: This study found some similarities between expectations of Iranian adolescents and those of adolescents from other cultures about an SHE program. Adolescents showed great abilities to appraise health services delivered for them, and so any program for sexual health promotion in adolescents ought to address adolescents’ needs, demands, and aspirations. Their contribution can provide insights for tailoring SHE programs for adolescents.


Key words: Adolescents, female, Iran, qualitative research, reproductive health, sexual health education

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