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TWSHF Survey: Women Are Rarely Asked About Intimacy Concerns

Posted Nov 30 2008 12:20pm
TWSHF Survey: Women Are Rarely Asked About Intimacy Concerns

Female sexual dysfunctions (FSD) or difficulties are relatively prevalent and should be assessed from a multi-disciplinary perspective and yet are not addressed by most healthcare providers. Rarely are women asked during their annual visit with their provider if they are having any sexual difficulties. It is important for providers to assess this area of a woman’s health since this is a rather common health problem among women. This is especially true of women who have had gynecologic, breast and other cancers,or who may have diabetes, multiple sclerosis, are on medications such as antidepressants, chemotherapy, estrogen suppressant therapy or may have other medical conditions.

An 18 item Internet survey was placed at the Women’s Sexual Health Foundation website. The survey contained demographic information and questions on women’s beliefs specific to communication with their provider and care relating to female sexual health problems.

Pilot data were gathered to determine women’s perceptions in relationship to discussing sexual health difficulties with their healthcare provider, and their perceptions concerning a provider’s education and expertise in treating and assessing sexual health difficulties. These data may help discover methods to improve the care of women with FSD.

There were a total of 391 respondents from all over the world. Women from ages 21 to over 80 answered the survey questions. Most were well educated. Although 71.68% of women would be comfortable if their healthcare provider initiated a conversation about any sexual health problem(s), and 72.70% preferred that their healthcare provider initiated this discussion, less than 9% of the respondents stated their healthcare provider always initiated questions about sexual health difficulties during an annual office visit. Furthermore, 72.19%, answered that they believed their healthcare provider would be comfortable with them initiating a discussion concerning their sexual health problem(s). However 30% of respondents indicated that they did not believe that their provider had the expertise to address their sexual health difficulties.

Although FSD is common, and women would prefer that their healthcare provider discuss and assess sexual health difficulties with them, this is rarely done on a routine basis.

The take home message is that if you have a concern about intimacy or are having sexual health difficulties, address this with your doctor or nurse practitioner. Whether a woman has had gynecologic or breast cancer, pelvic trauma from an accident, diabetes, or is on chemotherapy or other medications that may impact her sexual wellness, she will have to advocate for her own care in this area of health based on The Women’s Sexual Health Foundation Survey.
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