Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) The health of Australia’s females, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 04 February 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). The health of Australia’s females. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health
The health of Australia’s females. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 10 December 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The health of Australia’s females [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2023 Feb. 4]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, The health of Australia’s females, viewed 4 February 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health
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Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality (WHO 2019a). Measures of sexual health include the prevalence of sexual difficulties and sexually transmissible infection rates.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a subset of communicable diseases known to be transmitted through sexual contact. More than 30 different viruses, bacteria and parasites are known to be transmitted sexually (WHO 2019b). While some STIs can be cured, a person can have an STI without symptoms of disease. If left untreated, these infections can have serious consequences for long-term health.
In Australia, data about new cases of STIs are collected through notifiable disease monitoring systems. Data about common infections are routinely published in annual surveillance reports, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV (Kirby Institute 2018).
new cases of selected notifiable STIs were reported for Australian females in 2017
In 2017, females accounted for less than half (44%) of all new STI cases (Kirby Institute 2018).
Number of notifications
Per cent of total cases(a)
Rate per 100,000
Age group with highest rate
(a) Total cases excludes cases where sex was missing.
Chart: AIHW. Source: Kirby Institute 2018 (see Table S12).
Notification rates for viral hepatitis and HIV have remained stable over time in females. However, there has been an increase in rates of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis notifications. The increase in gonorrhoea and syphilis notifications are more dramatic than the increase in chlamydia, with rates of gonorrhoea in females twice as high in 2017 as in 2008 and rates of syphilis 4 times as high in 2017 as in 2008.
Chart: AIHW. Source: Kirby Institute 2018 (see Table S13).
For more information, see HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: Annual surveillance report 2018
Around 2 in 3
Australian women experienced at least 1 sexual difficulty in the last 12 months
A sub-study of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Health and Relationships, asked 2,252 women in 2011, which indicated that 66% of women surveyed (aged 20–64) had experienced at least 1 of the following sexual difficulties in the 12 months prior to the survey (Smith et al. 2012):
For more information, see Sexual and reproductive health.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2008. National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. ABS cat. no. 4326.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018a. National Health Survey: First results 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018b. Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2015–2017. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.003. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2019. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18, detailed microdata, DataLab. ABS cat no. 4324.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Findings based on AIHW analysis of ABS microdata.
Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council 2017. National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions. Canberra: Australian Government.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2018. Cancer Data in Australia. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019a. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Australian Burden of Disease series no.19. Cat. no. BOD 22. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019b. Endometriosis in Australia: prevalence and hospitalisations. Cat. no. PHE 247. Canberra: AIHW
AIHW 2019c. Australia’s mothers and babies data visualisations. Cat. no. PER 101. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019d. Australia’s mother and babies 2017—in brief. Perinatal series no. 35. Cat. no. PER 100. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019e. Deaths in Australia. Cat. no. PHE 229. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019f. Mortality Over Regions and Time (MORT) books. Cat. no. PHE 229.
AIHW 2019g. Mental health services in Australia: in brief 2019. Cat.no. HSE 228. Canberra: AIHW.
Bywood PT, Raven M & Erny–Albrecht K 2015. Improving health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, babies and young children: a literature review. Adelaide: Primary Health Care Research & Information Service.
Kirby Institute 2018. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: annual Surveillance report 2018. Sydney: Kirby Institute.
Lawrence D, Johnson S, Hafekost J, Boterhoven De Haan K, Sawyer M, Ainley J, Zubrick SR (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents. Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Department of Health, Canberra
Morgan VA, Waterreus A, Carr V, Castle D, Cohen M & Harvey C et al 2011. People living with psychotic illness 2010. Report on the second Australian national survey. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing: Canberra
OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) 2019. Life expectancy at birth (indicator). doi: 10.1787/27e0fc9d-en. Viewed 4 September 2019.
Smith AM, Lyons A, Ferris JA, Richters J, Pitts MK, Shelley JM et al. 2012. Incidence and persistence/recurrence of women’s sexual difficulties: findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Health and Relationships. Journal of Sex and Martial Therapy 38(4): 378-39.
WHO (World Health Organization) 2015. State of inequality: reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Geneva: WHO. Viewed 3 November 2015.
WHO 2019a. Sexual and reproductive health: defining sexual health. Geneva: WHO. Viewed 11 July 2019.
WHO 2019b. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Key facts. Geneva: WHO. Viewed 25 March 2019.
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