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Sexual Health

Tips for… Talking With Your Health Care Provider About Sexuality

Be prepared
  • Write down all the questions you have for the health care provider in advance and bring a pen and paper to jot down answers and take notes.
  • Make and bring a list of questions, concerns or symptoms (if you are experiencing any).
Stand up for yourself - every client has the right to:
  • Information: to learn about the benefits and availability of sexual and reproductive health services
  • Access: to obtain services free of prejudice (such as gender, ethnicity, marital status, socio-economic status, religious affiliation, sexual orientation)
  • Choice: to decide freely whether to practice safer sex and family planning and which methods to use
  • Safety: to be able to practice safe and effective methods of sexual health maintenance
  • Privacy: to have a private environment during counselling or other sexual /reproductive health services
  • Confidentiality: to be assured that any personal information will remain confidential
  • Dignity: to be treated with courtesy, consideration and attentiveness
  • Comfort: to feel comfortable when receiving services
  • Continuity: to receive contraceptive and safer sex supplies for as long as needed
  • Opinion: to express view on the services offered

Speak up
Don't feel embarrassed if you don’t understand everything your health care provider is sharing with you. If you don't understand what she/he is telling you, ask him or her to explain it again. Using different words, or drawing or showing you a picture can help. Don't leave the office without understanding everything the your health care provider has told you.

If there are issues you want to discuss that the health care provider doesn't mention, raise them yourself. Health care providers may assume that you know more than you do or she/he may be busy and forget to mention something. Health care providers are only human. Workers may forget to ask about regular breast and testicular exams, oral swabs for STI testing, and a review of satisfaction with your contraceptive. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed to bring up sensitive topics.

Be open with your medical history
Speaking up also means telling your health care provider everything you know about your body and health, including all your sexual history. The more information you share, the better the provider will be able to assess your risk factors and make wise suggestions for your health. A compassionate health care provider will not be judgmental and will provide information and options for you while respecting your confidentiality, dignity and comfort.

Bring your partner with you
Sometimes, people like to bring their partner to a medical appointment for moral support or to share the responsibility of decision making. Allowing a health care provider to explain the risk of a viral STI may be comforting if you have disclosed to a partner that you are a carrier.

Follow up
If you feel nervous, rushed, or just plain overwhelmed, you might forget to ask a question, even if you wrote it down. If this happens, or if you think of a new question, call the office right away. Building a successful partnership with your health care provider takes time and effort. Your relationship with your provider should be positive and comfortable. You should have confidence and trust in his or her medical ability and judgment.

  • Let your health care provider know when there's a problem so you can resolve things together.

Adapted From:

  1. Canadian Health Network
    (CHN is brought to you by Health Canada and major health organizations across the country)
  2. Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada