Researchers find that OB/GYNs may need to delve deeper into patients' sex lives
But the researchers weren't asking about Pap smears and breast exams, rather, they inquired about whether these healthcare providers were talking to patients about their sexual function and satisfaction.
"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," said lead author Stacy Tessler Lindau, M.D.
The researchers discovered that about 40 percent of OB/GYNs routinely ask questions about their patients' sexual function, while just 29 percent inquired about how satisfied these individuals were with their sex lives and 28 percent confirmed that they ask about sexual orientation.
Authors of the study said that when considering the link between sexual function and overall health, OB/GYNs should be more active in talking to their patients about these issues. Female sexual dysfunction can put strain on relationships or result in worry, shame, guilt or isolated feelings for a woman. Given this, it's important for a healthcare provider to broach the subject, as some women may not be willing to bring it up.
"If you are waiting for the doctor to start the conversation, it may never happen. Communication is key," Lindau said.
Pain or sexual dysfunction may also be signs of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). This underscores the importance of doctor-patient communication, as well as regular testing for these infections. OB/GYNs can also provide valuable information about practicing safer sex, which may reduce the chances of contracting an STD.