BACKGROUND * Sexuality is an important part of health, quality of life, and general well-being. Studies indicate that less than half of patients' sexual concerns are known by their physicians, and physicians are unaware of how common these sexual concerns are in their practices. Our objective was to determine the prevalence and type of sexual concerns among women seeking routine gynecological care.
METHODS * We mailed the survey in waves. Of 1480 women seeking routine gynecological care from the departments of Family Practice and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Madigan Army Medical Center between August 1992 and January 1993, 964 responded. The main outcome measures were self-reported sexual concerns and their experiences with discussing these concerns with a physician.
RESULTS * A total of 98.8% of the women we surveyed reported one or more sexual concerns. The most frequently reported concerns were lack of interest (87.2%), difficulty with orgasm (83.3%), inadequate lubrication (74.7%), dyspareunia (71.7%), body image concerns (68.5%), unmet sexual needs (67.2%), and needing information about sexual issues (63.4%). More than half reported concerns about physical or sexual abuse, and more than 40% reported sexual coercion at some point in their lives.
CONCLUSIONS * Our results suggest that sexual health concerns are prevalent for women seeking routine gynecological care. Sexual health inquiry should be a regular and important part of health care maintenance.
KEYWORDS * Sexual concerns [non-MESH]; psychosexual dysfunctions; physician-patient relations. (J Fam Pract 2000; 49:229-232)
Sexuality is an important part of the total person; integral to health, quality of life, and general well-being. It affects the way we relate to ourselves, our sexual partners, and all other people. A healthy attitude about sexuality can provide numerous benefits, including a link with the future through procreation; a means of pleasure and physical release; a sense of connection to others; a form of gentle, subtle, or intense communication; enhanced feelings of self-worth; and a contribution to self-identity.
Sexuality also carries risks, especially for women, including unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the potential for exploitation. These types of concerns are a common threat to sexual health and have been reported in 50% to 70% of marriages[3,4] and in 75% of couples who seek marital therapy.
As primary health providers, family physicians are in a good position to identify and address patients' sexual concerns, thereby promoting their overall health and well-being. Physicians, however, frequently do not recognize these concerns during the clinical encounter. Available studies suggest that less than half of patients' concerns are recognized by their physicians, and it is believed that physicians are generally unaware of the nature and frequency of sexual concerns among their patients.[6,7]
The purpose of our study was to describe the frequency and type of the sexual concerns among. women attending military outpatient clinics for routine gynecological care. The military medical center was a convenient facility serving a relatively diverse population of American women. Our study also extends the work of previous prevalence studies in clinical settings of sexual concerns by providing a larger sample...
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