Current Weather
The Spy FM

What Your Gynecologist Doesn’t Know About Your Sex Life, But Really Should

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
March 22, 2012

If your OB-GYN doesn’t ask you about your sex life, who will?

That’s the question that comes to mind on reading about a new survey of the women’s health specialists and what they don’t talk about with their patients.

Most gynecologists did ask a patient if she was sexually active. A measly 14 percent asked about sexual activity and pleasure. Only 28 percent asked about a patient’s sexual orientation. Yet one-quarter of the doctors say they had expressed disapproval of their patients’ sexual practices.

“How can we provide comprehensive care for our patients if we don’t know their sexual orientation?” asks Stacy Tessler Lindau, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago, and an author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. It surveyed 1,154 physicians around the country on how they communicate with patients.

These aren’t abstract questions. About one-third of younger women and one-half of older women say they have problems with sex. That can include lack of desire, pain during intercourse or inability to achieve orgasm.

Then there are the health risks associated with sexual activity, including sexually transmitted diseases and pelvic inflammatory disease. Commonly used drugs and treatments, like antidepressants, can cause sexual dysfunction. Add in relationship issues, and there’s no shortage of topics for discussion. But these problems can’t be diagnosed and treated if the doctor doesn’t know.

“Sexuality is an important part of health, even in women who don’t currently have a partner,” Lindau told Shots. “This is a call for OB-GYNS to raise these questions.”

Gynecologists aren’t the only physicians who shy away from asking sensitive questions. Other studies have found that doctors tend to avoid asking patients about smoking, drinking, weight, and drug use.

In this survey, female doctors were more likely to talk about sexual activity, and doctors over age 60 were less likely to ask about sexual orientation.

“Doctors don’t want to offend patients,” Lindau says. “They don’t to embarrass patients. They don’t want to be perceived as prurient or inappropriate.” Add to that the fact that there are not treatments available for sexual dysfunction for women, unlike Viagra for men, and she says it’s not hard to see why docs aren’t asking.

Doctors should be taking the lead, Lindau says. But patients should ask, too. “Ultimately if patients have the courage to raise these issues with their doctors, doctors will follow.” [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

9PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

View the program guide!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center