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Good Housekeeping
Jennifer Chan, Assistant Managing Editor
April 06, 2012

Study Shows OB-GYNs Need to Ask Their Patients More Questions

"Don't ask, don't tell" doesn't work in this case. Patients could be withholding information that might be crucial to their sexual health. By Jennifer Chan

Despite a more relaxed stance on the topic of sex, people still seem to have a tough time talking about it. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, even certified obstetrician-gynecologists aren’t discussing the other significant points of sex to their patients. Sure, they ask about recent sexual activities, but rarely would an OB-GYN delve any deeper than that. 

In a survey done by researchers from the University of Chicago, it was revealed that only 40 percent of the surveyed OB-GYNs routinely asked their patients about any sexual dysfunction or sexual issue. Meanwhile, only 29 percent asked their patients about their sexual satisfaction; 28 percent asked about their patient’s sexual orientation. 

The survey also revealed certain factors that might affect the way doctors see their patients. Researchers looked at age, race, gender, medical school background, and even religion among others, to see which have the most impact on their practice. Upon analysis of the data, researchers found out that doctors who see more patients for gynecology than prenatal matters were more likely to ask about sexual dysfunction. Age also plays a part as doctors who are 60 and above appear to be less inquisitive about their patients. 

In this age, however, it’s not enough to simply ask patients the usual routine questions. As the patients themselves are unlikely to broach the topic themselves, it is up to the doctors to ask anything that could possibly be of importance. 

"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. Simply asking a patient if she's sexually active does not tell us whether she has good sexual function or changes in her sexual function that could indicate underlying problems," says  Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago Medicine and the study's lead author.

(Screencap from Knocked Up courtesy of Universal Pictures)

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Jennifer Chan
Assistant Managing Editor
Jennifer Chan was a contributing writer for Female Network for two years before formally joining the team as a staff writer in July 2012... Read more...
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