Women are more likely to see a doctor for regular check-ups than men, and yet it is so important that men have regular checkups to discuss all aspects of their health. Sexual health is one area that is incredibly important for men to understand. As a doctor at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, here are a few aspects of sexual health that I discuss with male patients.
When you see your health care provider for a routine physical exam or to be screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you will be asked some rather personal questions. These questions are important for your provider to better understand your health risks and provide the best possible treatment. Some of the questions may involve your sexual practice. For instance, what are you doing to prevent pregnancy? What is your partner using to prevent pregnancy? How many partners have you had in the last year? Do you have sex with men, women or both? What do you do to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and HIV? Do you know how to use a condom appropriately?
Condom use offers protection against some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection. They also offer some protection against pregnancy, but condoms along with the withdrawal method are considered to be the least effective methods to prevent pregnancy. About 18 women out of 100 will get pregnant within the first year with condom use.
That is why it is important to know what your partner is using to prevent pregnancy. Your health care provider can help answer your questions about contraceptive methods for both you and your partner and help you decide on the most suitable methods. Learn more about birth control and family planning by reading this factsheet.
Question: If the condom breaks and your partner is not using an additional contraceptive method, do you know what to do next to protect her from getting pregnant? The answer is having your partner use emergency contraception. One of the easiest options is if you or your partner buys a pill that does not require a prescription, called Plan B. The pill should be taken within 5 days of having unprotected sex, but the sooner it is taken the better. Plan B is not 100% effective, but does help reduce the chances of pregnancy.
Your provider may also ask you questions about whether you ever had any STIs. STIs can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex and many of them do not cause symptoms, at least in the beginning. If you do have symptoms such as urinary frequency, discharge from the penis or ulcers on the penis, seek out medical care to get treated. A urine sample is all that is required to test for the most common STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Without testing and treatment, you may unknowingly pass these infections on to your partner. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause a serious pelvic infection in women that may lead to infertility. Some STIs in pregnant women can also impair fetal development or be passed on to their babies during childbirth. Learn more about STI’s by reading this factsheet.
For the protection of yourself, your partner, and your child, we encourage all men to receive annual physical exams and be screened for STIs whenever they have a new partner.
Come visit us at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center to get your annual check-up and discuss these as well as other important health issues. Our OBGYN department offers family planning services and counseling to both men and women to help you improve your sexual health and achieve your reproductive life plan, whether you are seeking to have children or preventing pregnancy. You can make an appointment at our OBGYN department by calling (212) 966-0228 for Manhattan or (718) 886-1287 for Queens. Find more information by visiting our OBGYN webpage. You can also make an appointment to meet with a primary care provider by calling (212) 379-6998 for Manhattan, and (718) 362-3006 (37th Ave) or (929) 362-3006 (45th Ave) for Queens. Visit the internal medicine webpage.
Written by Dr. Gail Bauchman.
Dr. Bauchman is a physician at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She attended Stony Brook Medical School, and specialized in family medicine. She is board certified from the American Board of Family Medicine.