What women aren’t talking about with their gynecologist but should
Being aware of your sexual health is important. However, full sexual health includes a topic many women are hesitant to address – enjoyment. Gynecologist Kristl Tomlin, MD, explained what women need to know.
Three important facts about sexual health
Dr. Tomlin has three major guidelines when it comes to a woman’s sexual health:
- Sex should always be safe.
- Sex should always be consensual.
- Women should have, throughout all stages in life, a reasonable expectation to enjoy sex.
Gynecologists like Dr. Tomlin find there is a lack of understanding that women should be able to find sex rewarding – in middle or postmenopausal years as well as when young.
“I always ask patients specifically about their enjoyment of sex. It’s amazing how many women will say, once you ask directly, that they don’t have any enjoyment,” said Dr. Tomlin. “As women’s healthcare providers, we don’t just serve a role doing cervical cancer and breast cancer screenings, we are there to talk to our patients about things such as sexual health so they can be sure that they’re enjoying their life to the fullest.”
What to know about sexual health and enjoyment
There are predispositions for female lack of enjoyment of sex or poor sexual health. The most common ones include:
- Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
- Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease.
- Chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia.
- OB/GYN-specific conditions such as vaginal dryness.
There is also a condition called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, also known as Female Sexual Interest Disorder. Women with HSDD/FSI face an inability to become aroused or interested in sex, in absence of other organic causes such as those listed above. However, there are proven treatments available for HSDD, including sex therapy, counseling and medication.
Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of sex to your doctor
If you are feeling nervous or hesitant about talking to your doctor about your lack of enjoyment or desire for sex, Dr. Tomlin offered some advice:
- Schedule an independent meeting with your doctor dedicated to the topic – possibly in an office rather than an exam room.
- Write your questions and thoughts down beforehand.
- Be honest and remember your doctor wants to help.
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