Give Google a rest and ask a professional.
Many people experience sex issues, but that doesn’t necessarily make them less embarrassing to talk about—which is why you probably turn to Dr. Google, in an incognito window, when something seems off. But there’s one important resource you probably haven’t considered when it comes to solving your biggest sex problems: your ob-gyn.
“Ob-gyns are the masters of the pelvis and associated organs—who better to ask?” says Maureen Whelihan, M.D., an ob-gyn at the Center for Sexual Health & Education. “Our focus is on the health of women, which includes sexual health.”
Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, agrees. “We should be one of the most important people you talk to about sexual health because it involves the pelvis,” she says. “We’re very familiar with the anatomy and how it functions.”
Your ob-gyn is also a great resource because he or she can be trusted to keep your issue private. “Your discussions are confidential,” says Jason James, M.D., medical director at Miami’s FemCare Ob-Gyn. “They are bound by the privacy laws that govern physician-patient relationships.”
Not only that, your ob-gyn can help you understand if the issue you’re experiencing falls into the realm of “normal” or not, plus how to fix it. And the range of sexual health issues they can help with is much larger than you’d think.
James lists safe sex practices, STD prevention, safety issues around oral or anal sex, and difficulty with achieving orgasm as issues and concerns he frequently discusses with patients. Sexual orientation questions can also come up, he adds.
Pain during sex and vaginal dryness are also common sex issues, Whelihan says, adding that they’re the “easiest” to work on. “The more challenging complaints that take a bit more discussion and evaluation include low sexual desire, lack of orgasm, [and] frustration with lack of communication about wants and needs during sex,” she says, noting that conversations about issues with partners, such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, also come up.
Shepherd says vaginal dryness is a topic that should definitely be discussed with your ob-gyn. “People have a perception that if you’re young, you’re always vaginally lubricated, but that’s not always true,” she says. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an underlying condition, she says, but it’s important to talk to your doctor to figure out how to fix it—especially if it’s impacting your sex life.
Once you raise your concerns to your doctor, he or she can give advice, do an exam, or order additional testing to try to figure out what’s going on and, most importantly, fix the issue. “There are lots of solutions—it depends on the cause,” Whelihan says.
So, if you’re having a sex issue, talk to your ob-gyn—there’s really no reason not to. “Even if your doc does not have the knowledge or desire to solve the problem, they are surely connected to someone who can,” Whelihan says. And, she adds, the solution may be easier than you think