I’m probably like most of you who get wound up and anxious about seeing the doctor, even though it’s been ages since I’ve had any pressing sexual concerns. (Getting tested after finding out that a partner has been having sex with someone else without my knowledge is not a fun thing.) Regardless of the reason you need to see a doctor about sexual issues, it’s something you have to do.
I was grateful when Dr. Ethan Gregory reached out to me and offered some great advice about seeing a physician. He brings up a lot of things I had never considered in getting a sexual health checkup.
As a certified social worker and now counselor and health educator, I have a perspective to share about sexual health and seeking treatment.
It is important to understand that even before professional medical training and years of experience seeing all sorts of issues related to sexual health, most people in the medical field are already pretty stout individuals and their comfort level with bodies and disease are going to be pretty high. While it may be a good thing for objective advice, sometimes seeing things the way a doctor does takes away some of the humanity and empathy a person might be hoping for when dealing with a sexual health issue.
Doctors treat one body part the same as any other. Health professionals see you as a collection of symptoms to treat and learn from, not an emotional person with insecurities. While you might be embarrassed by your symptoms and wish to hide under a rock, in fact, the worse your symptoms are, the more likely a doctor will be invested in spending quality time with you and your service level will probably increase.
Every guy and girl getting a physical or gynecological exam thinks about what an odd job the doctor has as they feel a scrotum or check the cervix, the doctors are neither impressed nor concerned with how the patients might feel about their routine tasks. Take that as a comfort, own your symptoms, and hide absolutely nothing when you do seek treatment, because you don’t want to hurt your long-term health or potentially harm another person because of your fear for what a medical professional might think. A gyno or urologist or other reproductive health professional will have to ask the tough questions to ensure they have a correct treatment plan. If you are not transparent with them, you could be doing yourself a disservice.
It’s better to think of the doctor visit as a confessional. Show up and start from the beginning of your symptoms. Once you are on a road to recovery, you can feel confident that it is safe to get back between the sheets and that your doctor has already forgotten all about what you said or showed them.