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How to Talk With Your Doctor About Sex

By Expert HERWriter
 
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The subject of sex can seem taboo to many women, especially when they go to see their doctors for routine exams. It may be difficult to discuss or admit that sex is painful, non-orgasmic, or not as good as it used to be.

It can be hard to say out loud that things are changing “down there” with age or after children. Some women feel that they have dried up or conversely, as someone once told me, that they have "too much cervical fluid."

Sexual issues occur at any and every age. I have discussed “how to have sex” with women of all ages, just like I have discussed “how to have an orgasm,” or “where is the clitoris,” with many of my patients, regardless of their stage in life.

I discuss sexually transmitted infection protection with my teens just as easily as I chastise my newly divorced 50-year-olds who feels their menopausal status means they don’t need condoms.

Newsflash: You need to use a condom. Menopause does not protect against chlamydia or herpes.

So how do you talk with your health care provider about sex?

It does depend somewhat on the relationship you have with your doctor. Bedside manner plays a big role in discussing the finer points of orgasm or vaginal dryness. However, everyone who's gone through advanced medical schooling such as an MD, DO, ND, NP, and PA, will have received a lot of training in gynecology.

First, write down your questions in order to have an open discussion. Try to avoid the pitfalls of the internet where “worst case scenarios” dance wildly in your head. That itchy rash might just be a yeast infection.

Be as specific as possible. Do you bleed after intercourse? Is there a new bump on your labia? Have you cheated on your partner and need testing?

Are things drier than they used to be making sex painful? Have your orgasms decreased? Are you looking to avoid pregnancy?

It does not matter how big or how small the question, add it to your list.

Next, be honest with your health care provider. Tell them you have specific questions in regards to sexual health, then ask away. If you have follow-up questions, ask those too.

1) Crane, K. (2014). Sex Ed 101: How to Talk to your Doctor About Sex.
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/05/30/sex-ed-101-how-to-talk-to-your-doctor-about-sex

2) National Institutes Institute on Aging. (2015). Talking with your Doctor: A Guide for Older People.
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/talking-your-doctor/can-i-really-talk-about-discussing-sensitive-subjects

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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