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Finding a Sexually Literate Doctor

By Dr. Barb DePree Expert HERWriter Blogger
 
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the search for a sexually literate doctor
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None of us gets through our adult life without some questions about sexual functioning. And we go lots of places for answers, consulting family, friends, texts, the Internet, piecing together a quilt of inter-generational wisdom and ideas, sifting through marketing hype at the drugstore, trying to self-diagnose our situation and find the fastest-best-cheapest way to make it better. Or sometimes we simply live without answers to our questions, wondering and miserable.

This is a time-consuming and inexact way to learn that can lead to some uncomfortably misguided behaviors. (Yogurt douche, anyone?)

Is there a better way? I think there is: You deserve a Sexually Literate Doctor.

Surveys tell us only 14 percent of men and women between the ages of 40 and 80 have ever discussed sexuality or sexual health with their doctors. I attended a women’s sexual health conference recently, and out of 100 people in the audience, only one had ever been asked by her doctor about sex.

That is, women who have worked for years with their gynecologists to bring their babies into the world don’t discuss sex with those same doctors. When discussing menopause symptoms and treatment, sex doesn’t come up. Women are more comfortable ignoring the sexual changes or treating sexual difficulties from drugstore or pantry shelves than through interaction with their health care providers.

And there’s good reason. For most of our lives, our physicians couldn’t help us. Most of them simply didn’t know how.

Until very recently, not many doctors had the training to discuss female sexual function, and particularly post-menopausal sexual function. As recently as 10 years ago it was common for a physician to receive just an hour or two of training in female sexual function during their entire residency.

That’s why I focus my medical practice as I do—on midlife women—and started MiddlesexMD! Sexual literacy among physicians is getting better every day, but until thorough sexual health training is common in our medical schools, we still have to look around a bit to find a Sexually Literate Doctor who can answer our questions when we need help.

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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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