The Doctor Is In: Am I Sexually Active?

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.



  1. Maggie Valentino says:

    I have never been with a guy, but I have masturbated. I know I'm not emotionally ready to be with a guy, but I still have needs/wants. Would i have to tell my doctor about this? Would this at all count as being sexually active?

  2. jessicamarie says:

    I honestly don’t no if I’m sexually active? But I think this helped me answer that. I hav had many boyfriends n I’ve hooked up/made out wit them but the closest I’ve been is wen I’m with a guy wen we r kissin he would jus touch me (both still in clothin) but another puts his hands down mi pants n touches my pussy do those count as bein sexually active?

  3. Danielle says:

    My boyfriend and I were messing around one night.. We were both no wearing pants and I sat on his penis. I barely sat though and it went in half way for less than 10 seconds because I got up. Am I still a virgin? Can I get my HPV shot?

    1. emma says:

      acording to the movie "What's your number" if even the tip of the penis is in you ha sex.

  4. jane says:

    Basically, i haven’t had intercourse before, however, my boyfriend has fingered me and licked me out. I think he might have been too rough with me because now i have symptoms of cystitus. My mum wants to take me to the doctors, but im worried about weather he’ll ask me if im sexually active. Would i be classed as active?

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