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Health & Sex

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Sexual Problems? Asking for Help Is the First Step

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WebMD Health News

June 9, 2000 -- You walk into your doctor's office for a routine checkup. He or she asks if anything has been bothering you. You decide to bite the bullet and mention that you are having some difficulty in the bedroom. Congratulations. Telling your doctor is the first step toward achieving a better sex life, experts tell WebMD.

There's no need to be shy or feel alone in this dilemma. A recent survey looking at women ages 18 to 59 showed that 43% of women have sexual function complaints. "The most important issue in evaluating sexual dysfunction in women is finding out the cause or causes," women's health expert Donnica Moore, MD, president of Sapphire Women's Health Group in Neshanic Station, N.J., tells WebMD. "It is more complicated for women than it is for men because our sexuality is not dependent on a small piece of real estate," she quips.

The primary care doctor's first job is to listen and ask questions, Moore adds. "Sometimes, the basis of the sexual dysfunction can be determined by these two processes," she says. "Clearly, communication with the doctor is important. Communication with your sexual partner is usually the other half of the solution," she says.

"The primary care doctor can help you identify whether the problem is predominately physical, biological, emotional, psychological, of some combination of the above," Moore says.

Here's how:

He or she may ask what medications you are taking. Many prescription drugs -- such as a class of antidepressants that includes Prozac and Zoloft, high blood pressure medications, and even some over-the-counter cold medicines -- may lead to a lack of sexual desire.

"Sometimes, the solution is as simple as changing the dose or switching to another medication in the same family," she says. For example, a newer antidepressant called Effexor apparently has fewer sexual side effects than Prozac and the rest, even though it's in the same class.

Alcohol may also be a culprit, she says. Remember, "alcohol is a great social lubricant ... It may help you get into bed, but it won't help you once you are there," she says.

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