Sexual autonomy and self-reported sexually transmitted infections among women in sexual unions

Adu, Collins, Mohammed, Aliu, Budu, Eugene, Frimpong, James Boadu, Tetteh, Justice Kanor, Ahinkorah, Bright Opoku, and Seidu, Abdul-Aziz (2022) Sexual autonomy and self-reported sexually transmitted infections among women in sexual unions. Archives of Public Health, 80 (1). 40.

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Background: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are major public health challenges worldwide. Despite the importance of sexual autonomy in the prevention and control of sexual and reproductive health disorders such as STIs, there are limited studies on the possible relationship between women’s sexual autonomy and self-reported STIs, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This study, therefore, examined the association between sexual autonomy and self-reported STIs among women in sexual unions in SSA.

Methods: Data from the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) of 31 countries in SSA conducted between 2010 and 2019 were analysed. A total of 234,310 women in sexual unions were included in the study. Data were analysed using binary logistic regression models and the results were presented as crude odds ratios (cORs) and adjusted odds ratios (aORs) at 95% confidence interval (CI).

Results: The prevalence of self-reported STIs among women in sexual unions in SSA was 5.8%. Approximately 83.0% of the women surveyed had sexual autonomy. Women who had no sexual autonomy were less likely to have self-reported STIs (cOR=0.52, CI: 0.46-0.54), compared to those who had sexual autonomy. Additionally, higher odds of self-reported STIs were found among women aged 25-29, compared to those aged 15-19 (aOR= 1.21, CI: 1.09-1.35); those who reside in urban areas, compared to those who reside in rural areas (aOR= 1.51, CI: 1.37-1.66) and those who were cohabiting, compared to those who were married (aOR= 1.65, CI: 1.52-1.79). On the other hand, lower odds of self-reported STIs were found among women who were exposed to newspapers (aOR= 0.89, CI: 0.82-0.95), those whose partners had primary education (aOR= 0.84, CI: 0.78-0.91), those who were not exposed to radio (aOR= 0.84, CI: 0.79-0.89), and working women (aOR= 0.86, CI: 0.80-0.93).

Conclusions: Findings from this study suggest that sexual autonomy is a significant predictor of self-reported STIs among women in sexual unions in SSA. Thus, instituting policies and programs that empower women and improve their levels of sexual autonomy may result in increased self-reporting of symptoms associated with STIs which subsequently help in minimising STI-related complications. Also, policies aimed at enhancing women’s sexual autonomy may reduce the burden of STIs in SSA, especially among women in sexual unions.

Item ID: 74456
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2049-3258
Keywords: Public health, Sexual autonomy, STIs, Sub-Saharan Africa, Women
Copyright Information: © The Author(s). 2022 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2022 01:14
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 100%
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