Maximizing sexual health: What women aren’t talking about with their gynecologist, but should

Posted on 4/16/2019

Being attentive to and mindful of your sexual health is important. For women, full sexual health includes a topic many are hesitant to address.

When it comes to a woman’s sexual health, Kristl Tomlin, MD, gynecologist with Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, has three major guidelines: sex should always be safe, sex should always be consensual, and women should have, throughout all stages in life, a reasonable expectation to enjoy sex.

Gynecologists like Tomlin find that there is a lack of understanding that women should be able to find sexual health rewarding – in middle or postmenopausal years as well as when young – and that doctors are here to help.

“I always ask patients specifically about their enjoyment of sex. It’s amazing how many women will say, once you ask directly, that they don’t have any enjoyment,” said Tomlin.

“As women’s health care providers, we don’t just serve a role doing cervical cancer and breast cancer screenings, we should be there to talk to our patients about things such as sexual health so they can be sure that they’re enjoying their life to the fullest,” said Tomlin.

To help increase awareness, Dr. Tomlin provides a few things all women should know regarding sexual health and enjoyment.

  1. There are predispositions for female lack of enjoyment of sex or poor sexual health. Most common include:
  • Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
  • Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease.
  • Chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia.
  • OB/GYN-specific conditions such as vaginal dryness.
  1. There is a condition called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Women with HSDD face an inability to become aroused or interested in sex, in absence of other organic causes, such as those listed above. There are proven treatments available for HSDD, including sex therapy, counseling and medication.
  1. If you are facing a lack of enjoyment of or desire for sex, talk to your women’s health care provider. If you are feeling nervous or hesitant:
  • Schedule an independent meeting with your physician dedicated to the topic – possibly in an office rather than an exam room.
  • Write your questions and thoughts down beforehand.
  • Be honest.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with USC OB/GYN, visit PHUSCMG.org/OBGYN or call 803-545-5700.

 

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