Know your family history.
Tell your primary
physician about your entire family health history
including such medical issues as diabetes, high
blood pressure, and cancer, to create a full picture
of potential medical issues.
Convey your sexual history.
If you feel
comfortable, try to communicate about your
own vital sexual issues, including values, sexual
relationships, history of sexual abuse or coercion,
and your sexual orientation.
Have a health care buddy.
A health care buddy,
who could be a good friend, can remind you to see
a doctor and can be your extra eyes and ears if you
Female Sexual Health
When a doctor proposes tests or
a course of treatment, always ask about the risks,
any alternatives, and what happens if you do
nothing. Doctors and nurses converse in
medical terms; if you don't understand
these terms, ask what they mean.
Always ask if you need a referral to see
If you do not inquire, a
specialist may refuse to see you or
your insurance company may send
you a huge bill.
Set a date for preventive screenings.
Book these appointments well in
advance, especially for routine but
potentially lifesaving screenings such
as mammograms, Pap smears, or a
Become familiar with your insurance
Use your insurance company's
website and toll-free number to find out
exactly what your plan covers.
Carry your emergency health
information and insurance card at
This list should include your
doctors, medications, herbs and vitamins you take,
allergies, immunizations, family history, emergency-
contact information, and blood type.
Use the Internet wisely.
The Internet can be
a valuable tool, but it should never replace a
consultation with your doctor. Print articles and
take them to your health care provider for help
sifting through the information.
It is a rare experience to find an individual who has NOT been touched by breast
cancer in some form or fashion. I (Nicole) have been affected by breast cancer
because both my grandmothers had breast cancer. My maternal grandmother
lost her life when I was a young girl. My paternal grandmother was diagnosed
when I was in college and I was frightened that she would also die. What I found
was that treatment had improved immensely in the years that separated the two
diagnoses. My paternal grandmother has been cancer-free for over 10 years. She
is an encouragement to me and represents so many millions of women who have
Because a woman's sexual anatomy is parcly internal, understanding and becoming famil-
iar with the sexual body is more challenging for females than it is for males. A woman's
breasts, vagina, and surrounding tissue all play a role in both sexual healch and pleasure.
For discussion regarding a woman's perspective on the female body and the ability to
reach orgasm, see "Healchy Sexuality: What Does Orgasm Have to Do With It?"