Questions to ask about your sexual health
Your good health depends on your ability to communicate and rely on your health care provider
Talking to a health care provider about your sexual health can be intimidating. You might feel embarrassed about the questions you have, or you might not want to admit to certain feelings or fears about your health. However, being able to talk to your health care provider about your physical health as it relates to your sexual health is absolutely crucial.
If you can’t be totally honest about what’s happening with your body and your feelings about it, you won’t be able to get accurate treatment. Your health care provider should be able to give you straightforward, nonjudgmental feedback and advice about your body and sexual life, but he or she has to start with the whole picture.
The first step is to choose a health care provider that you trust. They should be someone who is open-minded, honest, and very good at listening. If you feel uncomfortable with your provider for any reason, follow your instincts and ask around for other recommendations.
Remember that your health care provider is there to help you. The things you want to talk about are almost certainly not new. They will have dealt with many patients who come to the table with all kinds of questions or conditions.
Start the conversationThe questions you may want to ask can cover a wide range of topics, from changes in sex drive, dealing with sex during pregnancy, pain during sex, protecting your fertility, the best form of contraception, among other issues. There are a few topics, however, that any sexually active person should be sure to discuss, including preventing sexually transmitted infections and getting tested.
The 10 questions below are a great place to start the conversation:
I want to make sure that I’m taking all of the right steps to protect myself from sexually transmitted infections. Where should I start?
How can I talk to my partner about STIs? Can you give me some advice?
I want to make sure that my partner and I get tested before we have sex. Where should I go? How can I bring up the topic with him/her?
Given what we’ve talked about in terms of my relationship history, should I be tested for STDs/STIs? Which ones?
How often should I be tested for STIs? Which ones?
Are there any vaccines I should consider to protect myself from STIs? Are there vaccines that are recommended for me?
What are my options when it comes to birth control? How can I talk to my partner about birth control options?
I’ve been feeling differently about sex recently. Can we talk about what might be going on?
What screenings are recommended for someone my age? (such as STI tests, mammograms, and prostate cancer screening)
I’m not always happy with the way my partner treats me. Can we chat about that?
Find a providerWhat if you don’t have a regular healthcare provider? Where do you begin trying to find one? You can start by asking family, friends, or co-workers for referrals. If you have health insurance, your insurance company should offer a list of providers as well.
MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, provides links to directories to help you find health professionals, services and facilities. Visit medlineplus.gov/directories.html.
Source: American Sexual Health Association: ashasexualhealth.org