The topic of sex is difficult for many women to approach, especially with their physicians. Usually, annual check-ups are packed with advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle and control chronic diseases. But when women have concerns about their sexual health, they often fail to tell their doctors. It’s a sensitive topic, so often doctors do not bring up the sex questions either. Still, both patients and doctors need to learn to include sexual health in any conversation about general well-being. Sex is part of your health. As such, sexual health questions are not exclusive to your gynecologist and appropriate to discuss with your primary health practitioner.
Before you go to the doctor, you must know what your body and your symptoms might be telling you. Here are some questions you can ask yourself so you can prepare for your next visit with your doctor:
- Are you unsatisfied with your sex life?
- Do you experience pain during sex?
- Do you have low libido?
- Has your sexual activity changed suddenly or dramatically in the last year?
- Are you not able to reach orgasm with normal sexual activity or even masturbation?
- Have you noticed anything different or strange in your genitalia, such as dryness, itching, bad odor, blisters, or a change in the look and amount of your vaginal secretions?
- Do you have any questions or concerns about STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)?
Read Related: How to Talk to Your Man About Sex Without Scaring Him
LOSE THE FEAR
Dr. Kathy Wolfe, sex therapist, explains that cultural and religious reasons prevent women from approaching the doctor with their questions. Moreover, Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and author of the book The Ripple Effect: How Better Sex Can Lead to a Better Life, says that usually women bring the sex topic to the conversation last. In her practice, Dr. Gail experiences that women will talk about all their other issues but are reluctant to bring up sexual concerns during their visits.
Sexual problems can stem from serious physical issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances. Also, problems with your internal organs and overall health that can impact your sexual desire, arousal and performance.
Furthermore, problems with sex can be due to psychological disorders such as depression, emotional trauma, and mental health issues. Medications can also cause changes in your libido and sexual response so it is very important that you bring up your sex concerns with your doctor if you take medications to treat chronic conditions.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT SEX
Get Ready: Journal your symptoms and write down your questions and concerns before getting to the doctor’s office.
- Bring it Up: If your doctor does not ask you about your sex life, tell him or her. You are talking about your health and you are the one with the problem. The doctor is there to help.
- Ditch the Doctor: If the doctor does not make you feel comfortable, change to a new one.
- Persist: Do not give up until you get the answers you are looking for.
- The Plan: Get out of the doctor’s office with a plan, treatment, advice, or referral to a professional who can help.
Women have to get savvy and assertive about their sexual health and understand that sexual health is part of their health. Doctors are trained professionals who should have an impartial and broad view of health.