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My girlfriend and I recently moved to a new town, so I had to get a new doctor. I told her I was a lesbian so I could put my partner down as my emergency contact. She asked a lot of questions about how we have sex. I told her that we wash our hands before sex, we use latex gloves, and we have two separate sets of toys. (This is mostly because we like different toys, both in terms of size and how or where we like to use them.) We put condoms on the toys to keep them clean and wash them after sex.
This doctor indicated a lot of disapproval about what we were doing. She called it “overkill” and said we were not being spontaneous. She seemed to believe that lesbians are not at risk for any sexually transmitted conditions.
Well, I did what she said, and both of us came down with urinary tract infections (UTIs)! I've never had a UTI before. The doctor was quite annoyed when I told her that I thought it was because we changed our lovemaking patterns. I was told to take the medicine for the infection, that this would take care of the problem and it wouldn't come back. What do you think?
In return trips to this doctor, it seems like we wind up talking about my sex life a lot. I guess she has never had a lesbian patient before. It is making me a little uncomfortable. How can I tell what questions are legitimate? I went to see her because I had a cold and a sore throat, and we still wound up on the topic of how my partner and I make love.
You and your girlfriend have my permission to return to your former sexual practices. It sounds to me like you are enjoying an active sex life, and there's no indication that a lack of spontaneity is a problem here. I wish I could get all of my readers to wash their hands before sex and keep their toys clean. There is a STRONG possibility that the UTIs were caused by not being as careful. Be aware that the antibiotics given for a urinary tract infection can have the unwanted effect of causing yeast infections. So if you notice an unusual vaginal discharge, itching, or a yeasty smell, get treatment for this as well. I hope that the UTIs will calm down once you return to using gloves, etc.
A UTI can be caused by too much friction, allergies to bath soap or laundry detergent, eating too much sugar, and exposure to a partner's intimate booty jungle of genital flora and fauna. Every woman's body is different. Some women suffer from UTIs that never seem to go away while others have cast-iron genitalia. If you've found a sexual routine that prevents UTIs, hosanna! There's no reason to fix what ain't broken.
Very few medical schools require their students to take any courses on human sexuality. Yet Western societies assume that medical doctors are the ultimate authorities on any sort of sexual problem. Unfortunately, if you take a sexual issue to your doctor, you will usually wind up with nothing more than his or her opinion. This can be especially dangerous for lesbians, gay men, and other people whose sexuality is the focus of considerable prejudice and ignorance. For example, a friend of mine who told his doctor that he enjoyed having his balls tied up was told that this would cause castration if he did not stop it immediately.
A common misconception about lesbian sexuality is that sex between two women carries no risk of transmitting any type of sexually-transmitted infection (STI). This is absolutely not true. This is a myth based on the idiotic notion that two women are not having “real” sex. Many lesbians never seek medical care or treatment due to a well-founded fear of being mistreated by medical professionals. This skews statistics on a topic that is already under-researched. A low number of sex partners can help reduce STIs if you are a lesbian, but the same thing is true if you are a woman with male partners. If both women are healthy, they will stay that way after sex.. But lesbian sex with a partner who has herpes, syphilis, a vaginal infection, anal warts, hepatitis, or HIV can result in exposure and illness.
Your doctor's boundaries are unprofessional. It is unethical for a medical or mental health professional to expect a client to educate them about personal issues specific to that client's life. That's what continuing education is for. Ideally, the professional updates their knowledge and skills on their own time, so that an appointment benefits the client exclusively. The same thing would apply if your doctor had a black patient and expected her to educate the physician about the politics of racism or ethnic culture. A doctor should not ask you about your sex life unless it is specifically relevant to a problem that YOU brought to his or her attention.
Next time this happens, you can tell your doctor, “That's not why I came to see you today.” Then restate your problem (sore throat, sprained ankle, whatever). If she continues to quiz you, say, “There are a lot of good books about that topic” and refer her to the Internet or a local gay bookstore. If she STILL doesn't understand that no always means no, you can bluntly say, “I am not comfortable answering that question. I don't want to talk about that with you any more.”
Refusing to do what a professional wants you to do can be quite intimidating. We are at the mercy of our doctors because we usually don't see them unless we are sick. Doctors tend to be arrogant, and as a group they are not known for having a positive response to criticism. You may have a legitimate question about whether you will continue to get decent care from your doctor if you do not entertain her with erotic lesbian anecdotes. Don't put yourself through that. Hiring a doctor is no different than calling someone to fix your sink or going to the store to buy yogurt. If you get an incompetent plumber, you fire them and call somebody else. If the grocery store doesn't have your favorite flavor, you go to a new store. So if you'd rather not tell your doctor to back off, you are justified in finding a new one—hopefully one who is not a closeted voyeur.