We as doctors (yes doctors) and patients (men and women) have a good of deal of anxiety discussing sexual health. Through medical school, students are taught the importance of gathering a proper sexual history from our patients. Yet, when it comes to daily practice we may find it an uncomfortable experience.
Providers are supposed to enquire about a persons sex life which includes sexual orientation (same or towards the opposite sex), libido ( sexual desire), frequency and stages of sexual intercourse, methods of contraception and such. This is however seldom done . Possibly because the physician finds the topic awkward or maybe simply a lack of time.
If this is the case with the professionals, then one can hardly blame our poor patients with their dilemma in bringing up this topic. They may notice a snag in one or more aspects of their sexual health. But are often hesitant to bring up the discussion with their provider. I have experienced this reluctance especially with our male veterans.
Now I do understand that sexual health is vast subject and a detailed discussion is not possible within a blog post. I will attempt to touch on some of the salient aspects. Decrease in libido and trouble with erection can be from mental health issues, medications and hormonal issues. The physician may utilize the help of a mental health specialist , endocrinologist or urologist to address the problem. To help with erectile dysfunction, common medications include Viagra, Levitra, Cialis etc. A vacuum erection device is a non invasive device that can help with achieving and sustaining a healthy erection. The patients spouse should be their partner in helping the patient tackle sexual dysfunction together with the physician.
We as patients and physicians need to work together to have a robust discussion when it comes to sexual health.
Please comment to let me know your comfort level discussing sexual health with your provider or patient?