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Sexual Health

Tips for… Talking With Your Health Care Provider About Sexuality

Be prepared Stand up for yourself - every client has the right to:

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.

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