What to expect at your first visit to a sexual health counselor
Sexuality and sexual health are important components of your overall well-being. That's why our team at SIU Medicine provides comprehensive sexual health counseling for individuals and couples throughout the Southern Illinois area.
Did your physician recently refer you to sexual health counseling? Are you interested in scheduling an appointment directly with a credentialed counselor? No matter what brings you here, know that you are welcome—and know that your questions, desires and needs deserve to be addressed.
Keep reading to learn about what to expect during your first visit with a sexual health counselor.
Patient privacy and discretion
For many people, sexuality and sexual health are sensitive subjects that can be difficult to discuss. For this reason, we take great care to create a calm, private and safe environment for each and every one of your visits.
Expect your first counseling session to be held in a private, one-on-one setting with an experienced and credentialed counselor. You can also expect any and all follow-up communication to maintain your privacy and discretion. It is our duty to respect your rights regarding protected health information (PHI), and we will do everything in our power to put you at ease as you explore your sexual health needs.
Sexual health history discussion
Our sexual health counselors are expertly trained to offer trauma-informed and inclusive discussions and management options for a wide range of sexual health matters. Common concerns include decreased desire or libido, decreased arousal, difficulty achieving orgasm, vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, and vulvovaginal skin disorders. During your first visit, we'll review and discuss the unique concerns you have regarding your sexual health. This may include:
- A review of past or current physical health that may impact your sexual wellbeing, including your age, hormones, chronic health conditions (diabetes, hypertension), chronic pain conditions, pelvic floor dysfunction, disabilities, and past surgeries. Your current medications will also be reviewed, as many medications can contribute to sexual health concerns.
- A review of psychological, emotional, social and intimate partner factors that may impact sexual wellbeing. Our mental health plays a big role in both our overall wellbeing and sexual health. Common contributing factors include anxiety, depression and history of trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The way we look at ourselves such as body image and sexual self-confidence can contribute to a decreased sexual wellness. Intrapersonal or our relationship with others can also contribute. Stressors such as family circumstances, cultural influences, social support, and current/previous partner relationship quality and function all contribute to sexual health wellbeing.
- A review of relevant medical information from other health care providers in your multidisciplinary team.
- A discussion of your primary concerns and goals for your sexual wellness and/or intimate relationships.
Personalized plan of care
Our patients come from all walks of life and represent a diverse range of gender, age, ethnicity, lifestyle and religious and cultural backgrounds. During your first visit, your sexual health counselor will develop your plan of care within the greater context of your unique life experience and current needs.
For example, your plan of care may involve one or more of the following components:
- Education covering topics such as sexual function and anatomy, sexual response, the brain-body connection, and even relaxation techniques
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Individual and/or couples counseling
As part of your sexual health counseling, you can also expect to receive "homework assignments," such as journaling exercises or activities to do alone and/or with your partner. These assignments are intended to enhance and complement the care you receive during your sessions. We'll also modify the focus and frequency of your counseling sessions to reflect your needs at every stage of your wellness journey.
Multidisciplinary care coordination
Your sexual health counselor will act as a liaison who can connect you with other providers and services that will support your sexual wellbeing. Depending on your needs, we may discuss or recommend additional resources, such as:
- Mental health counseling and/or trauma therapy
- Pelvic floor physical therapy
- Providers specialized in each body system (GI, Uro-Gyn, Urology, Neurology, Pain)
- Integrative Medicine (Acupuncture, massage therapy)
- Local and/or online support groups
Are you interested in sexual health counseling?
At SIU Medicine, we pledge to treat all our patients with dignity, discretion and compassion—and as an individual seeking sexual health counseling, you deserve nothing less from the providers you entrust to your care.
If you'd like support as you address your sexual health needs, reach out to SIU Medicine today to find a provider who can help.