According to a self-flagellating report in what should be called the Journal of Sexual Healing but is instead prosaically named the Journal of Sexual Medicine, a national survey of OB-GYN sexual history screenings have revealed that doctors are shying away from discussing sexy times with their patients.
The University of Chicago survey found that while two thirds of OB-GYNs regularly inquire about their patients' sexual activity, only 40 percent of those surveyed ask questions about sexual dysfunction. Additionally, a mere 29 percent of those doctors routinely ask about patients' sexual satisfaction, and only 28 percent bother confirming patients' sexual orientation.
What could the consequences be of not discussing all the lurid, sticky details of your harlotry with your gynecologist? A whole Pandora's box of worry, shame, guilt, and feelings of isolation if you're one among the third of young and middle-aged women (or about half of older women) who experience some sort of sexual problem such as low desire, pain during intercourse or lack of pleasure during sex. According to the report's author, Stacy Tessler Lindau, M.D.,
Sexuality is a key component of a woman's physical and psychological health. Obviously, OB-GYNs are well positioned among all physicians to address female sexual concerns. Simply asking a patient if she's sexually active does not tell us whether she has good sexual function or changes in her sexual function that could indicate underlying problems.
The reason for all this oversight is, of course, that female sexuality remains a great fount of American squeamishness that our collective Puritan brain-stems just will not let us stop drinking from. Lindau explains that many women suffer "in silence," primarily because they worry that, by bringing up their sexual concerns, they'll embarrass their physician, who will summarily expel them from the office out of debilitating prudishness.
Though the study — which accounts for whether factors such as gender, age, race, medical school location, immigration status, religious affiliation or type of practice affect an OB-GYN's willingness to delve deeply into a patient's sexual activity — found that female physicians are more comfortable talking about sex than, say, male doctors over the age of 60, the real shocker is that, in general, doctors are more willing to talk about a male patient's sexual activity because pharmaceutical companies have spent tireless man-hours trying to fix broken penises. As a result, there exists a veritable cornucopia of FDA-approved erectile dysfunction medicines and very few treatments for female sexual dysfunction, which amounts to yet another way that pharmaceutical companies pretend women don't exist.