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Embarrassed Talking About Sex with Your Doctor? Try These Tips

Six strategies to help when you’re feeling shy or a little embarrassed during your appointment.

Embarrassed Talking About Sex with Your Doctor? Try These Tips

Healthcare providers can be a little intimidating, especially when the topic is something very personal—like anything to do with sex. While you may not think twice before bringing up a sore throat or a sports injury, discussions about sex are in a whole other category, and it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit awkward, embarrassed, or even squeamish.

But awkward or not, sex is something you really should be talking about with your healthcare provider.

To (hopefully) make the conversation a little easier, here are some things to keep in mind, as well as some tips to help during your appointment.

  • Remember that your healthcare provider isn’t there to judge you. Your healthcare provider’s job is to help you keep your body and mind healthy. Being honest and open and sharing information helps them provide you with better care. And anytime you feel like a healthcare provider does not take your concerns seriously or is judgmental, strongly consider looking for a different healthcare provider.
  • Remember, your healthcare provider has done this before. They have had years and years of medical school and firsthand experience with countless patients. Chances are, no embarrassing symptom, question, or story you share is going to be shocking or surprising.
  • Do your homework. Before your appointment, take a few minutes to make some notes. What do you want to get out of the appointment? What is the most important topic that you need to discuss? Are you experiencing any symptoms? Are you upset about anything?
  • Be ready with a starter sentence. One of the hardest parts about discussing an uncomfortable topic is getting started. Having an actual scripted first sentence can help. You may even want to start by just admitting that this feels awkward for you, with something like, “I have something I want to talk about, but I’m embarrassed.” Being real, honest, and straightforward can help break the ice.
  • Have something to reference. Sometimes it’s easier to have something else do the talking for you. For example, if you found an article that describes your situation, take it along with you. This can be another approach to starting the conversation.
  • Mention any other symptoms you’re having. Even if you don’t think they’re related to your primary question or concern. Symptoms such as sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, or headaches could be an important part of the puzzle. Being honest with your healthcare provider about any and all symptoms you’re experiencing puts your healthcare provider in a better position to help you.

While discussing sex at a healthcare appointment can be challenging, it’s worth getting over the awkwardness. Sex, sexuality, and sexual health are important aspects of physical and mental wellbeing—which is why we have healthcare providers that specialize in these sorts of things.

Medically reviewed in April 2021.

Sources:
Better Health Channel. "Talking with your doctor about sensitive issues."
RiteAid.com. "Talking About Sexual Matters with Your Doctor: Why It’s a Good Idea."
Cedars Sinai. "How to Address Uncomfortable Topics With Your Doctor."
National Institute on Aging. "How to Talk with Your Doctor About Sensitive Issues."
The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders. "Anxiety and Sexual Disorders."
Christian Hahn. "5 Effective Strategies to Help You Overcome Sexual Dysfunction." Anxiety.org. August 16, 2017.

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