Having your feet up in stirrups while staring down a cold speculum isn't exactly the sexiest situation. Well, according to a new survey, OB-GYNs feel a little awkward about the whole situation too. Only for them, the awkward part isn't the poking and prodding. It's having to talk about the reason many of us are in that office to begin with: sex.
According to a new survey of OB-GYNs by the Journal of Sexual Medicine, doctors seem to be avoiding talking with their patients about the sexy parts of sex. The University of Chicago survey found that although two-thirds of OB-GYNs ask women about their sexual activity, only 40% ever inquire about sexual dysfunction. Only 29% of doctors surveyed ask if patients are satisfied in their sex life, and only 28% ask about their patient's sexual orientation.
You might wonder what the point of compounding an already awkward situation with a frank sexual discussion is. Well, for one thing, knowing a patient's sexual orientation would definitely affect what kind of protection said patient would be directed towards. And as for sexual satisfaction, most experts would say that's a pretty important part of overall sexual health. Here's how the report's author, Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, put it:
"Sexuality is a key component of a woman's physical and psychological health. Obviously, OB-GYNs are well positioned among all physicians to address female sexual concerns. Simply asking a patient if she's sexually active does not tell us whether she has good sexual function or changes in her sexual function that could indicate underlying problems."
While "sexual dysfunction" may be a problematic term, talking about these things is clearly important. If a doctor knows their patient is sexually active, it's important to know whether she's actually able to enjoy sex, or if she has any questions about how to have a more fulfilling, healthy sex life. Awkward, maybe. But an important part of sexual health? Definitely. After all, if you can't ask the person staring your vagina straight in the face about these things, who are you going to ask? So ladies, next time you're at the OB-GYN, crank up the Salt-n-Pepa and talk to your doctor about sex. If only for the mental health of your poor, overshared-to hairdresser.