The Doctor Is In: Am I Sexually Active?

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gyno_article3001Talking sex with your doctor isn’t always easy. Whether you are afraid she will judge you,  you just don’t feel comfortable sharing the intimate details of your life between the sheets, or you can’t think straight with a speculum between your legs, many people get tight lipped in the doctor’s office. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have questions.

We thought we’d help and every Thursday our friend Dr. Lissa Rankin will be answering your questions. The ones you couldn’t ask your doctor in person. Just leave your questions in the comments, or send em over to us. (We’ll keep it all anonymous for you.) Dr. Lissa will answer anything – really, anything – about sex and other lady things. Don’t be shy; she’s waiting for ya!

Q: This may sound really dumb, but when my doctor asks me if I’m sexually active, I never know how to answer. Have I had sex before? Yes. Am I having it now? No. (But I wish I were…) When I have it, is it with the same person? No. How do I answer this and, even more, is she judging me when I answer truthfully?

A: I know how confusing that question can be.  I once asked a woman if she was sexually active and she said no. I then discovered she was pregnant and confronted her. She said, “Well, I only have sex five times/week. I don’t think that’s very active.” So yes, the word “active” can be misleading.

When we docs ask if a woman is sexually active, here’s what we’re trying to figure out.

1. Does this woman need birth control?
2. If this woman is younger than 21, does she need a pap smear?
3. Is this woman at risk of a sexually transmitted infection?
4. Could this woman possibly be pregnant?
5. Is this woman still a virgin?
6. Does this woman engage in risky behaviors, such as having sex simultaneously with multiple partners?

So if your doctor asks you if you are sexually active, the easy answer, in your case, is, “I’ve had sex before with multiple partners, but I’m not currently in a relationship. The last time I had sex was six months ago (or whenever).”  That way, your doctor knows that you need a pap smear, you’re not a virgin, chances are good that you’re not pregnant, you do need to be tested for sexually transmitted infection, and you don’t need birth control right this minute, but you might very soon.

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