How to Become a Sexual Health Advocate for Your Wound Care Patients

Introduction

Sex is all around us; it’s in our community, workplace, academic environment, religious facilities, and even our homes. Yet, for some reason, it is treated as a taboo. As a healthcare professional, I cannot recall not one healthcare system mentioning sexual health as part of human life’s well-being. From my past exposure and knowledge, I have never seen or heard medical providers or other healthcare professionals mention in staff meetings about sexual health or training to incorporate sexual health education as a state of well-being. Maybe it was uncomfortable for medical providers and healthcare professionals candidly bring up sexual health for fear of the backlash of being professionally inappropriate (MDH, 2022). However, I have good news; our patients have been waiting for us to normalize sexual health education from all spectrums. The healthcare system should be one of the safe spaces where people should feel comfortable discussing every aspect of their life to reach optimal health. National Coalition of Sexual Health states, “it’s time to give sexual health the attention it deserves.” (NCSH, 2022).

Tips to Become an Advocate

First, Learn how to conversate with your patients about their sexual health. I understand how terrifying it may be to bring up the conversation to ask questions about sexual health, but it can be done successfully with practice.

 

Tip# 1: Do your self-inventory about known and unknown sexual biases you may have. In our childrearing year, we have been taught about sex through religious beliefs and parental teachings that may create psychological barriers to openly dialoguing about their sexual health (NCSH, 2021).

 

Tip#2 Be authentic about your uneasiness about discussing sexual health topics (NCSH, 2021). It makes you human, so your patients will feel safe to discuss their sexual health issues, concerns, and curiosity (NCSH, 2021). It’s building an authentic rapport with your patients; they will see you as an imperfect person.

 

Tip# 3 Start by asking generic sexual health questions like sexual history, how many partners, and how they identify their sexual orientation and sexual identity (NCSH, 2021).

 

Tip# 4 Ask your patients which pronouns they prefer to be identified as, regardless of their external or genitalia appearance (NCSH, 2021).

 

Tip# 5 Framing their sexual health as a part of their health regimen will normalize the conversations between you and your patients (NCSH, 2021).

 

Tip# 6 Have a list of professional and accredited sexual health resources to assist your patients further (NCSH, 2021). It is always a positive gesture to leave your patients with resources that enhance their sexual health, leading to holistically better well-being (NCSH, 2021).

 

Tip# 7 Recommends your patients follow up with you about their sexual health improvements, setbacks, and novelty discoveries to foster a solid, safe place to discuss openly and confidently (NCSH, 2021).

 

Secondly, learn how to embrace being your patients’ sexual health educator. Our first mission as medical providers and healthcare professionals is to educate our patients by creating an atmosphere of learning and eliminating falsehood teachings and beliefs that may be hindering our patients from reaching their optimal health (MDH, 2019). We are doing a disservice when we are not equipped to educate our patients about improving their sexual health. It should be considered a violation of the healthcare profession’s code of ethics. (MDH, 2019). By teaching our patients, we promote positive behaviors toward sexual activities, like oral sex, anal sex, fingering, using sex toys, vaginal sex, participating in sex clubs or parties, and other sex acts (MDH, 2019). Teach the how-to about maintaining safety while enjoying sexual pleasure at their discretion (MDH, 2019). By teaching our patients, we promote self-care by regularly encouraging routine sexual transmitted disease screenings to have updated sexual health status (MDH, 2019). Finally, teach our patients how to communicate their sexual needs to their partner(s) what they define as sexual satisfaction for them (MDH, 2019). We are here to remove judgmental stigmas by replacing them with grace, compassion, and empowerment to practice self-love in the sexual health capacity alongside their physical health, mental health, and emotional health.

Conclusion

In summary, this unconventional conversation is needed. We have to stop viewing sex as a dirty little three-letter word that is only useful in a back alley of a strip club. Sex is not filthy nor inappropriate; it is clean and beneficial to humanity’s sense of well-being. Once we start normalizing sex and sexual health, all groups’ communities will become safer, easier to measure accurate data for better treatments and enhance self-accountability. We, healthcare professionals, have a huge responsibility to educate communities and teach them to achieve sexual satisfaction without shame. Again, the National Coalition for Sexual Health states it’s time to give sexual health the attention it deserves (NCSH, 2022).

Disclaimer

 

The views and opinions stated in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect iWound, its affiliates, or partner companies.

References

MDH. (2019). Sexual health promotion – Minnesota department of health. Department of Health. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://www.health.state.mn.us/people/sexualhealth/sexualityedfs.pdf

 

NCSH. (2022). National Coalition for Sexual Health. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://nationalcoalitionforsexualhealth.org/

 

NCSH. (2021). Sexual health and your patients: A provider’s guide. Sexual Health and Your Patients: A Provider’s Guide. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://nationalcoalitionforsexualhealth.org/tools/for-healthcare-providers/document/Provider-Guide_2021.pdf

 

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