Saturday, August 31, 2013

How Much Do You Tell Your Doctor About Your Sex Life?

We've all been there... in the doctor's office... and they ask:

"Are you sexually active?"

You think about that phrase for a minute and contemplate its meaning.

Maybe it means:

  • Do you have penis-vagina sex on some sort of regular basis?
  • Do you have a steady sexual partner with whom you are likely monogamous?
  • Are you an animal in the sack or do you just lie there motionlessly as your partner does their thing?

And you figure it DOES NOT mean (i.e. what we can leave out of our medical history because it's uncomfortable to discuss):

  • Is your body working sexually as it normally should?
  • Do you masturbate regularly?
  • Do you have a feeling of pressure or like "something is in the way" when you have sex?
  • Do you have sex with multiple partners?
  • Do you use sex toys, dildos, or vibrators regularly?
  • If you use sex toys, what are they made of and how do you clean them?
  • Do you have types of sex that are not penis-vagina sex?
  • Have your orgasms changed in frequency or intensity without explanation?
  • Do you have pain or discomfort with intercourse?
  • Are you having any pelvic issues that are making you hesitant to engage in sexual activity?
  • Do you forcefully bear down to ejaculate during orgasm?
  • Do you leak urine when you have an orgasm?
  • Have you had any changes in sensation in your genitals?
  • Do you insert objects into your rectum, and could one of them be lodged in there?
  • Have you have sex in hot-tubs or on the beach recently?
  • If you do any anal play, do surfaces (bodily or toy) go from the anal area to the urethral area?

A friend of mine had this happen. She told me, laughingly, about it because she answered "No". She said, "Well, I technically haven't had a sexual partner for about a year, so I'm not sexually active. Sure I  can have gushing orgasms by just focusing on a fantasy, but they didn't ask about that part." And the thing was, that her sexual history actually ended up being very relevant to why she was going to the doctor. They just didn't screen well enough to catch it initially and she didn't think to volunteer the information.

See the problem? What is it that needs to be conveyed to our health care providers when we go in for a pelvic health problem? Do they really want to know our romantic status or are they more interested in how our body is functioning sexually? I'm pretty sure they want to know about sexual FUNCTION, not sexual activity. Sex matters to your health. The way your genitals are functioning matters. Your ability to have sexual pleasure matters. The way you treat your genitals matters. The risk factors you are exposed to matter.

So, take a look at that bottom list. Know that these things might actually have an effect on your health, especially if you have any sort of pelvic issue going on (bladder, bowel, sexual, or pain). Talk to your doctor about any concerns you might have. If you're going to a pelvic physical therapist for a pelvic issue, DEFINITELY mention it. These women are pelvic detectives! Give them the info so they can get a thorough picture of what's going on with your pelvis!

Will your doctor know how to handle such information? Some will. Those that don't know need to start getting better at fielding these concerns. If we all start talking with our doctors about this more readily, they'll hopefully get better at not letting sexual issues fall through the cracks of your medical care.

SPEAK UP, Ladies!! Your vagina needs you!

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