If you have ongoing sexual difficulties, such as low desire or lack of arousal, and it distresses you, make an appointment with your doctor. You may feel embarrassed to talk about sex with your doctor, but this topic is perfectly appropriate. A satisfying sex life is important to a woman's well-being at every age and stage of life.
You may have a treatable, underlying condition, or you may benefit from lifestyle changes, therapy or a combination of treatments. Your primary doctor may diagnose and treat the problem or refer you to a specialist.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Gather information about:
- Your symptoms. Take note of any sexual difficulties you're having, including when and how often you usually experience them.
- Your sexual history. Your doctor likely will ask about your relationships and experiences since you first became sexually active. He or she also may ask about any history of sexual trauma or abuse.
- Your medical history. Write down any medical conditions with which you've been diagnosed, including mental health conditions. Note the names and strengths of medications you take or have recently taken, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
- Questions to ask your doctor. Create a list of questions in advance to make the most of your time with your doctor.
Basic questions to ask your doctor
Consider asking your doctor questions such as:
- What may be causing my sexual difficulties?
- Do I need any medical tests?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- If you're prescribing medication, are there any possible side effects?
- How much improvement can I reasonably expect with treatment?
- Are there any lifestyle changes or self-care steps that may help me?
- Do you recommend therapy?
- Should my partner be involved in treatment?
- Do you have any printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask more questions during your appointment as they occur to you.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask a number of personal questions and may want to include your partner in the interview. To help determine the cause of your problem and the best course of treatment, be ready to answer questions such as:
- What problems are you currently experiencing?
- How much do these problems bother you?
- How satisfied are you with your current relationship?
- When did you first become sexually active?
- Do you become aroused during sexual interactions with your partner?
- Do you experience orgasm?
- If you've had orgasms in the past, what were the circumstances?
- Do you have pain with intercourse?
- Are you using any form of birth control? If yes, what form?
- What medications are you taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as vitamins and supplements?
- Do you use alcohol or recreational drugs? How much?
- Have you ever had surgery that involved your reproductive system?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions, including mental health conditions?
- Have you ever been the victim of sexual violence?
What you can do in the meantime
Keep the lines of communication open with your partner. Be honest about your dissatisfaction or the problem you're experiencing. Consider alternatives for intimacy and engage in sexual activities that are relaxing and rewarding for both of you. In this way, you can be intimate and ease the stress of the situation.
Sept. 25, 2012
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- Swanson JB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 11, 2012.
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