No matter your age or gender, a healthy sex life helps make for a healthy relationship. It also helps with your own sense of well-being. But don’t take your sexual health for granted. Talk with your doctor about any sexual health issue you might have.

Get your problem out in the open so you and your doctor can work on a solution. That’s a big hurdle for many people. In fact, one of the biggest barriers to sexual health is that people don't want to talk about it. Here's how to get that conversation started.

Sexual Health Issues

Your mental, physical and emotional health affects your sex life. Some issues may affect your ability to have or enjoy sex. Others may affect your interest in sex. Fear of a bad sexual experience might cause you to avoid sex. If you are dealing with any of these common sexual health issues, talk with your doctor:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Painful intercourse
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Fear of getting a sexually transmitted disease
  • llness, medications or surgery
  • Smoking, alcohol or drug use
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Sexual abuse or a bad sexual experience
  • Relationship or intimacy issues

Tips for Talking With Your Doctor

Communication is at the root of dealing with sexual health issues. The first tip: Get past your fear of embarrassment. You are not the only person with sexual health issues. Your doctor has talked to many patients about sex. And, many people probably have a problem just like yours.

  • Start with something general and simple. Maybe say, “I have a personal issue I would like to ask you about.”
  • Be prepared. Do a little research. Write down questions you want to ask and take them to your appointment.
  • Use props. If you find an article or a brochure on a sexual issue you want to talk about, take it along. It can help get the discussion going.
  • Practice. Before your appointment, practice ways to bring up the topic. Practice asking questions.
  • Don’t go alone. If you've talked to your partner about the issue, ask him or her to go with you to talk to the doctor.
  • Talk with more than one expert. If your doctor doesn't have an answer that seems right for you, try someone else. A second opinion is always good.

What to Expect After Talking With Your Doctor

Options for dealing with sexual health issues depend on the problem you face. Your doctor may want to do a physical exam and order blood tests. Treatment options could include:

  • Starting you on a new medication or changing an existing medication
  • Working on medical issues that could be affecting your sexual health
  • Referring you to a specialist to investigate underlying medical issues
  • Referring you to a mental health or sexual health specialist
  • Testing or screening for sexually transmitted diseases