2. The number of sexual partners
“Be open and honest,” says Dr. Kerr. “The number of partners, the gender of your partners, whether you’re having unprotected sex, and whether you are having any symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases [vaginal discharge, pain, irritation] are all very important to mention.” Some sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and genital human papillomavirus (HPV) may exhibit few symptoms at first. You could be infected without even knowing it, and could pass the disease on to an unsuspecting partner. Left untreated, some diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility, or, in the case of herpes, a lifetime of discomfort.
Do not feel embarrassed about this conversation. “It might be the first time you’ve talked about your sexual habits with a doctor, but he or she has been talking about such topics all week with other patients,” Dr. Kerr says. It’s also helpful to know that your discussion with your physician is confidential and non-judgmental. Even if your doctor also looks after your spouse, the content of your discussion will not be shared. “It’s my duty to protect your information,” says Dr. MacLean. “I’m not here to judge or to scold you, but to work with you toward common health goals.”
It is also important for women over age 50 who are post-menopausal to mention any vaginal bleeding. “This could be cancer-related, and should be discussed,” says MacLean.