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Vaginal Dryness

Question: I have some concerns about vaginal dryness and discomfort and always feel embarrassed to speak to my doctor at my annual exam.  She asks me "any sexual concerns?" as she looks away and writes something in her chart.  She doesn't seem like she really wants to know!  I can't help but blurt out "no" every time.  How do I approach this?

Response: Thanks for writing!  In an ideal world, the doctor should take the lead, ask questions, and be there to address any concerns.  The reality is that most doctors are just as uncomfortable talking about sexual concerns as patients.  Your doctor's body language shows that he/she is uncomfortable too.  Here are some tips:

  1. Advocate for yourself:  You probably only get a few minutes with your doctor per well woman exam, so make the most of it.  Decide that your health is important and make a plan to speak up.

  2. Come prepared with questions written down on your piece of paper.  This will help you in the moment to be concise, precise, and confident.

  3. Tell the nurse ahead of the doctor that you have some sexual health concerns that you hope to address with the doctor.  That way, the nurse could prepare the doctor or the doctor will know that you came prepared with something to talk about.

  4. In the beginning of the appointment, tell the doctor that you brought some concerns with you.  Ask him/her if you would like to address them now or after the exam.

  5. If you feel uncomfortable with this physician, consider switching doctors.  If you contact a local sex therapist, they could recommend providers in your area who are particularly skilled and trained in sexual health.

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