The topic of sexual health and wellness can be one that elicits uncomfortable feelings for both patients and health care providers. It is a very personal and potentially sensitive issue that some people shy away from discussing. Sexual health plays an integral role in overall health, and understanding a patient’s concerns can help with diagnosing underlying issues and enhancing their quality of life.
Many patients are hesitant to bring up the subject on their own, but may be more open to conversation if it is initiated by their health care provider. One online survey found that out of 3,807 healthy volunteers, “40 percent of women who participated did not talk to a clinician about a sexual problem, but over half of them wanted to.” 1
Men’s and women’s concerns may be very different when it comes to sexual health. For men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem. Occasional problems keeping an erection could be caused by stress, illness, or medication, but when it happens frequently, this can be concerning. Asking a male patient about when they get erections, how long they last, and if they are sufficient for sexual intercourse can help identify potential problems. This may seem awkward, but in many cases ED may be treated rather easily once it is diagnosed.
Common problems for women include low sex drive and painful intercourse. Stress, hormonal changes, mental health, and certain medications can all impact libido. Some women may overlook these concerns unless explicitly asked about them. However, there are creams, medications, and supplements that may be beneficial in alleviating these symptoms.
By talking openly and honestly with patients about their sexual wellness, you can start necessary conversations that have an impact on their overall wellbeing, both physical and mental. Wells Pharmacy Network offers a wide range of preparations within sexual health, which can be viewed here.
1 Berman L, Berman J, Felder S, et al. Seeking help for sexual function complaints: Why gynecologists need to know about the female patient’s experience. Fetil Steril. 2003;79:572-576.