Questions Gynecologists Should be Asking

Sexual dysfunction is not just a problem for men and talking to the gyno may help

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Men discuss sexual dysfunction with their doctors, so why not women? Many obstetricians/gynecologists may not ask about a how a patient’s sex life is going.

A new study looks at how many female reproductive system specialists actually talk to their patients about sex. Results show that most don’t broach a lot of subjects and some even openly show signs of disapproval.

"Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction problems."

Researchers from the University of Chicago, led by Janelle N. Sobecki, MA, surveyed obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYN) to determine the level of communication about sexual activity with their patients.

They surveyed a total 1,147 OB/GYNs in the US, of which 53 percent were male with an average age of 48 years. As OB/GYNs would have the most medical reason to discuss sexual practices with a patient, researchers designed the survey to question just how candid the doctors really were being with their patients.

Only 65.6 percent of the 1,760 doctors were even willing to respond to the survey. Sixty-three percent of responders claimed to routinely assess their patient’s sexual activities.  Forty percent said they routinely asked their patients about any sexual problems they were having. Twenty-eight and a half percent asked their patients whether they were satisfied with their sex life, while only 13.8 percent asking their patients if they enjoyed sexual activity. Twenty-seven percent asked about sexual orientation or sexual identity. Around 25 percent admitted they had expressed disapproval of a patient’s sexual practice or habits on one or more occasion. 

According to the authors, "...patients would like to discuss sexuality-related issues with their physicians but are often reluctant to do so because of fear the physician will be embarrassed or will dismiss their concern." 

Openness about male sexual dysfunction as a topic of conversation has become more common with the advent of erectile dysfunction medications. Openness about female sexual dysfunction may still be somewhat taboo to discuss, but it is a real issue that effects around one-third of sexually active women.  

This study was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, May 2012. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 25, 2012
Last Updated:
August 17, 2012