Doctor Visits and Sexual Health | Counseling | Therapy

Doctor Visits and Sexual Health


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Samantha Eisenberg, LCSW, MSW, MEd, LMT, (Therapist)

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Doctor visits are important to maintaining good health. Regular physicals and check-ups are a smart choice. It’s not rare that you may have questions related to your sexual health during your doctor visits. Unfortunately, it is also not rare for your doctors to leave out important information in regards to your diagnosis and what that means for your sexual-self. Knowing what to ask and when during your doctor visits is important for your physical and sexual health.

You may feel embarrassed to ask your question, because you haven’t come to the doctor for your sexual needs but for the concussion your got at work or the numbing in your arm. The doctor’s main focus is your physical health and treating you for whatever it is you are seeking their services for. However, your sexual health may be affected and it is important for you to know how your sexual health may change throughout the course of your treatment. Do not be afraid to ask what questions are necessary.

There are different reasons for doctor visits- having a procedure done, annual check-up, major surgery, long-term care, fighting a disease such as cancer, terminal illness, etc. Whatever your reason for seeking services, you will want to start the conversation with your doctor by letting them know that your sexual health is just as important to you as your physical health.

Once you have notified the doctor that you want to know any and all information concerning your sexuality, start with some basic questions to help clarify the information you are looking for. After your procedure, how long will it be before you can have sex? Are you limited to certain positions? Should you only go at a certain pace as to not raise your heart rate? What if something happens during sexual intercourse?

During doctors’ visits, people frequently get sent home with prescription drugs. What are the sexual side effects of those medications? Will you experience dryness? What are some products or techniques you can use to combat the dryness? Will you have a hard time getting or maintaining an erection? Again, what are some things you can do in order to decrease the side effects? Will you experience lower desire than normal? What other sexual side effects could occur?

Sometimes, you may experience body image issues after receiving services from your doctor. You may have to shave your head or lose your hair. You may have to have one, or both, breasts removed. You may get a major scar. Ask your doctor what other people’s experiences have been like after the procedure and what your options are after your treatment/procedure. A lot of times doctors become hyperfocused on fixing the main physical issues that they forget about the quality of your life afterwards. How can you maintain a healthy sexual self and get the best treatment for your issue? Are there support groups for people who have gone through a major body change? Are there resources- Physical Therapists or Occupational Therapists for example- that can help retrain certain muscles to have a satisfactory sex life after your treatment/procedure? Will your doctor make the recommendation to see these specialists?

Another reason for doctor visits is because of a sexual issue. Maybe you’re having trouble maintaining an erection or maybe it is painful for you to have sexual intercourse and you experience a burning sensation. After ruling out possible STIs and other medical issues, what are your options for treating these sexual issues? Can you do something other than take medication?

Maybe you’re only experiencing issues in certain sexual positions or with certain partners. Ask your doctor what this could mean. Do you have a shallow vagina? Are you allergic to something such as latex condoms or a partner’s excretions? These questions may lend themselves to discovering important medical information about you, making it important to keep the lines of communication open about both sexual and physical issues.

Pay attention to your body. Do you notice a different smell than normal? Are you ejaculating less semen than normal? How is the color? All of this information can be pertinent in getting the best data and instructions out of your doctor if you can first start the conversation and then answer the questions they may be asking you in order to move the conversation forward.

No question is too small or too big for the doctor to answer. If your doctor does not know the answer during your doctor visit, or if you do not feel comfortable with the answer they have provided, ask more questions or ask them for a reference to someone that could give you the answers you need. It is important to advocate for yourself in regards to your sexuality. Have a list of questions prepared for your doctor. It may be easiest if you hand it to them in the beginning of the appointment, allowing for them to pace the appointment so they can discuss what they needed to, as well as answer your questions. Write down the answers if you find yourself forgetting specific details your doctor tells you.

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