pillow talkThere are many people in your life with whom you might talk about sex with: your partner, your friends, your kids… maybe others, too – but how often do you talk to your gynecologist about sex?

If you answered, “NEVER – she’s just there for my health,” then stop a moment and consider the disconnection in that statement.

My specialty is, in many ways, all about sex. My training started in college when I helped run my campus’ Peer Informational Services and Education on Sexuality (PISCES). From a young age, then, I have been giving advice and information about sex and its consequences. This experience may be why I ended up in the field of OB/GYN. My residency and fellowship included talks about the fundamentals, but what we really studied were the outcomes of sex.

Doctors are the ones who see it all firsthand; the gamut runs from the bad (i.e., sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), cervical cancer from HPV, unwanted pregnancies, infertility, sexual dysfunction, etc.) to the good (i.e., wanted pregnancies, assistance in regaining sexual function, support in sexual health, etc.). In my opinion, sex should be natural and easy, and yet it is also natural to have issues around sex. Some of my most gratifying work is helping people get what they need to have the active, healthy sex life they desire.

If sex is everywhere – in the media, in our entertainment, in the giggles and whispers that we all indulge in from the time we’re young—then why is it also seen as forbidden and a topic only to be discussed by adults? Perhaps because the consequences of being sexually active are best handle by adults, and responsible sex is the only really safe sex. Yet it also naïve to think that teens are not having sex.

So an important part of my job is talking about sex to many of my patients, particularly to young adults who need education and support around avoiding issues like STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and even emotional and perhaps physical harm from sexual relationships.

Taking my doctor self out of the equation, my view on sex is this: it’s ultimately all about getting and giving love and care. It’s also about opening yourself up and being vulnerable. And it’s about being desired by and desiring of your partner. Sex can relieve stress and anxiety. Sex can be an enjoyable activity that is good for your health, both physically and mentally. We all crave to be loved and to give love —sex can be that or sex can be just an action with no love involved. Nobody should ever be pressured to have sex; it should always be a personal choice. And ultimately, sex is best as an expression of intimacy in a loving situation. These are all messages that I believe any one – teens to seniors – should take to heart.

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork from my experience as a doctor AND a woman, next time we’ll talk about the changes in our sex life once we partner up and settle down.