Few people feel comfortable sharing the details of their sexual experiences, but the doctor's office is one place where such information is essential to appropriate care.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the medical name of the infection or infections I have?
- How, exactly, is it transmitted?
- Will it keep me from having children?
- If I get pregnant, could I give it to my baby?
- Is it possible to catch this again?
- Could I have caught this from someone I had sex with only once?
- Could I give this to someone by having sex with that person just once?
- How long have I had it?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Should I abstain from sexual activity while being treated?
- Does my partner have to go to a doctor to be treated?
What to expect from your doctor
Giving your doctor a complete report of your symptoms and sexual history will help your doctor determine how to best care for you. Here are some of the things you may be asked:
- What symptoms prompted you to come in? How long have you had these symptoms?
- Are you sexually active with men, women or both?
- Do you currently have one sex partner or more than one?
- How long have you been with your current partner or partners?
- Have you ever injected yourself with drugs?
- Have you ever had sex with someone who has injected drugs?
- What do you do to protect yourself from STIs?
- What do you do to prevent pregnancy?
- Has a doctor or nurse ever told you that you have chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis or HIV?
- Have you ever been treated for a genital discharge, genital sores, painful urination or an infection of your sex organs?
- How many sex partners have you had in the past year?
- How many people have you had sex with in the past two months?
- When was your most recent sexual encounter?
What you can do in the meantime
If you suspect you have an STI, it's best to abstain from sexual activity until you've talked with your doctor. If you do engage in sexual activity before seeing your doctor, be sure to follow safe sex practices, such as using a condom.
Aug. 18, 2017
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2015. MMWR. 2015;64:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6403a1.htm. Accessed Dec. 1, 2015.
- Smith L, et al. Sexually transmitted infections. Urology Clinics of North America. 2015;42:507.
- Sexually transmitted infections: Overview. Womenshealth.gov. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/sexually-transmitted-infections.html. Accessed Dec. 6, 2015.
- Overview of sexually transmitted diseases. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/sexually-transmitted-diseases-std/overview-of-sexually-transmitted-diseases. Accessed Dec. 6, 2015.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs110/en/. Accessed Dec. 6, 2015.
- South-Paul JE, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Dec. 5, 2015.
- New guidelines for cervical cancer screening: Patient education fact sheet. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients. Accessed Dec. 6, 2015.
- Ghanem KG, et al. Screening for sexually transmitted infections. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4. 2015.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases. In: Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Dec. 5, 2015.
- Hunter P, et al. Screening and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Primary Care: Clinics Office Practice. 2014;41:215.
- Preexposure prophylaxis for the prevention of HIV infection in the United States — 2014 clinical practice guideline. Atlanta, Ga.: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/guidelines/PrEPguidelines2014.pdf?elq=0a349f52dfa74f48ae554056bc0e027e&elqCampaignId=8040. Accessed Dec. 5, 2015.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)