In continuation of Women’s History Month, we sought the expertise of sex therapist Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology and associate dean for diversity and minority affairs at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Dr. Maiysha Clairborne, a holistic medical doctor and founder of Mind Body Spirit Wellness Inc., to compile a list of 10 things every woman should ask their doctors.
1. Can the sexual activity I’m engaging in put me at high risk for any STDs?
Going in for your annual Pap exam doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get tested for all STDs. Share with your doctor the sexual acts you engage in so he or she can know what tests to give you.
“There are some sexually transmitted diseases that go beyond a pelvic exam,” Hutcherson says. For example, if you’re having anal sex, ask for a rectal exam because rectal cancer can be caused by HPV.
2. What is my risk for heart disease?
Few women realize that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. Unfortunately, black women have a higher risk, Clairborne says. Obesity, smoking and hypertension put women at risk, a reason why knowing the symptoms are important.
3. What is a healthy weight for me?
Weight charts and body mass index (BMI) can be a little sketchy. That’s why, from a medical standpoint, it’s important to ask your doctor this.
Obesity increases the risks of ailments like hypertension, diabetes and heart disease and can potentially cause infertility and complications with conception, Hutcherson says. Being underweight also can cause infertility.
4. Am I able to conceive?
The earlier you ask, the better. “Women come to me when they’re almost 40 [saying], ‘Now, I’m ready to have a baby,’ ” Hutcherson says. It’s true, some women can have their first child in their 40s, but chances are slimmer. Even though “black women tend to be better at having these babies later than Caucasian women,” sooner is better than later, she says.
5. Why can’t I have an orgasm?
Considering that only 25 percent of women have orgasms through intercourse alone, this is a popular question. “Ask what can make sex more enjoyable for you,” Clairborne suggests.
There may be many reasons why, including vaginal dryness, a decreased libido – an issue for a lot of women, particularly for postmenopausal women or after just having children – and your partner not stimulating your clitoris properly… or at all. One thing to remember: A woman’s orgasm generally begins in her mind.