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How To Talk To Your Doctor About Sex

By EmpowHER
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Dr. Raj provides tips for women so they can more comfortably and confidently discuss safe sex, birth control, and STDs with their doctors.

Shay Pausa:
We are a society that post personal information on social networks and every one shares everything on reality TV. So one would think that we could easily talk to our doctors about sex, right? Well, think again.

According to a recent study, 40% of women still aren’t comfortable talking about sex with their doctor and not talking about it can be dangerous to our health. Joining me today to share how we can have better communications and advocate for our health is author of ‘”What the Yuck?: The Freaky & Fabulous Truth About Your Body”, Dr. Roshini Raj.

Good morning doctor, thanks for being here on EmpowHER. How are you today?

Dr. Roshini Raj:
I am well, thank you for having me.

Shay Pausa:
We are excited to have you. Dr. Raj, one of our big messages here at EmpowHER is teaching women to be their own health advocate. So tell us, what are some of the secrets that women keep from their doctors about sexual health and why is it so important to open up?

Dr. Roshini Raj:
Well what we found in this healthy communication survey is women are not discussing sexual health, sexual practices with their doctor. In fact, only one in four women ages 18 to 35 who have a regular healthcare provider have initiated a conversation about sexual health, and that’s really just dangerous to them because they are not getting the kind of care that they need; their doctor doesn’t have all the information.

So specifically, what are women not talking about? They are not talking about birth control. They are not talking about whether they are practicing safe sex, any history of STDs, all of these things could have an impact on what your doctor is going to do for you and overall, your overall health. So it’s really important to get there with your doctor.

Shay Pausa:
So how do we learn to open up because like you said, we just don’t feel comfortable talking about things like STDs? So how do we get comfortable and well, let it all hang out?

Dr. Roshini Raj:
Sure, and I can relate to it. I don’t always feel comfortable talking about these things with my doctor but that’s why we prepared some tools to learn tips about how to have these kinds of discussions to assess whether they do have good communication with their doctor, how to choose the right doctor, myths about things like contraception or pregnancy, all sort of things that can help women really figure out the best way to share information with their doctor, ask the right questions and get the most out of that visit which unfortunately these days, can be way too short.

Shay Pausa:
It is really short and it happens to all of us. We don’t go in prepared. We forget why we were there for in the first place.

Dr. Roshini Raj:
You are right. You are in that drafty paper gown. You know you are so embarrassed you just think about whether or not you shaved or whether you did your nails, you are not thinking about the questions you need to ask and one of the tips we have on the website is prepare a list.

Write down what you want to say, any symptoms you may have been experiencing that you want to discuss with your doctor, you have to write it down and bring it in there because your doctor doesn’t know what you have been going through the last month or the last year and they may not know which questions to ask. It’s up to you to bring up that information.

Shay Pausa:
And I think it is really important because even though we have all heard this before a lot of us still aren’t preparing for those appointments. So give us an example of something that we might not share with our doctor that really could prove to be dangerous in the long run.

Dr. Roshini Raj:
Well, absolutely when we are talking about STDs you need to share everything and that means, for example, a history of an STD like HPV. That actually increases your risk for cervical cancer and they need to screen you more often for that kind of cancer.

So that’s something that could really harm you down the line if you are too embarrassed to discuss it with your doctor, and remember your doctor has heard it all before. She or he is not going to be embarrassed by anything you say and they are not going to judge you. They really just want to give you the best medical care and you need to give them the information so they can do that.

Shay Pausa:
It is really true and again, it’s so important that we advocate for our own health because if we don’t, who will? The book is “What the Yuck?” You’ve got to read it. Dr. Roshini Raj, thanks so much for being with us.

Dr. Roshini Raj:
Thank you.

Shay Pausa:
So what is the best way to prepare for a doctor’s appointment? Well a good start is to visit EmpowHER.com. There you can find information about nearly every condition imaginable and questions you can ask your doctor.

I am Shay Pausa for EmpowHER. Please share this with a woman you love and post it on Facebook and Twitter. You just never know who might affect. I’ll see you next time.

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