November 15, 2010

let's talk about sex

yesterday we practiced taking sexual histories of standardized patients in small groups. We saw three different "patients" (a standardized patient is basically an actor-patient): a teenager who came in for birth control but was engaging in group oral sex with a group of other high schoolers, a man in his 50s who was concerned about his medication causing erectile dysfunction, and a woman who had just started a new relationship in her 50s and had all sorts of questions about what were "normal" sexual practices.

it was pretty fascinating stuff. the things my group learned were pretty effective in taking a sexual history, no matter what the situation is to:
*start by talking about confidentiality and safe spaces - to sort of set the tone for openness.
*make sure the person feels safe (and get details on how they're making sure they're safe) - whether this means barriers to prevent STDs or feeling emotionally safe in whatever relationship
*make sure the patient feels comfortable
*don't forget entirely about medical problems (for example, erectile dysfunction can be caused by medication side effects, but also by drinking more alcohol, as well as some vascular diseases)
*make sure you answer all the questions or figure out resources where the questions can be answered
*be careful about defining normal - we decided to stick to "normal can be lots of things, but what we want to make sure is that it's making you happy and that you feel safe"

any tips ya'll want to add?

"we are recorders and reporters of the facts - not judges of the behavior we describe"
-alfred kinsey, zoologist, sexologist

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