A recent survey polled 400 women, ages 18-35, regarding their willingness to discuss sexual health with their doctors. Only 1 in 4 of the women polled actually initiated a conversation about sexual health with their PCP, priority care provider, and only 6 in 10 of those women who initiated the conversations were comfortable with it.
Many feel this generation has no excuses for feeling uncomfortable with the topic of sexual health at the physician’s office, as sexual education was introduced in the education system for this generation. Also, the topic of sex has been less taboo in society and more has been done with educating the public in regards to sexual health, in particular, sexual health safety.
One OB-GYN states that he is concerned with the results of the survey, pointing to a high number of teen pregnancies, STDs and sexual dysfunction. In addition, he feels there are still women who continue to see physicians, who they are not satisfied with.
It seems incredulous that with the amount of physicians available to people, we aren’t more willing to research the physicians and request a consultation before becoming a patient. It is not out of the ordinary to ask to meet with a physician, first, letting them know what your primary concerns are and asking what their plan of care would be, before deciding to become their patient. This way, you would get a better understanding of the doctor’s personality and medical treatment plans, before making the decision to becoming a patient.
Find out if the physician has the same priorities as you do. Are they willing to treat all of your needs? Do you feel comfortable disclosing all of your symptoms and history? Do they listen to all of your potential problems and address each one?
It is often helpful to write notes before going into the doctor, so you have a clear thought of what you want to address when you are seen, including: current disorders, symptoms and medications. It is also helpful to bring in the medication bottles that you are currently taking, so the doctor has a clear idea of your prior plan of care. If you are able, call and request that your last treating MD send notes to the new MD you would like to transfer care to. You may have to sign a release (for HIPPA clearance) or pay a small fee for the release of the medical records; however, many physicians require medical notes from the previous treating physician, before they will accept a new patient.
It is important that you have a health care provider that you feel you can disclose all of your health care concerns to and that includes sexual health. There are many symptoms that can be embarrassing to discuss, but need to be addressed, if they are being experienced. Keep in mind that medical professionals have heard pretty much everything and if they are professional, they do not judge anyone. They only assess, educate, diagnose and treat. If you ever open up to a heath care professional and they do make a judgmental remark, they should be reported to their direct supervisor, and you should find another health care provider, who shows more compassion.