Define "sexually active" from a medical standpoint

I’m filling out forms for an upcoming medical test, and there are all sorts of fun questions to answer. But the one that has me stumped is “are you sexually active?”

So I sit there, pondering, saying to myself, “well, not this week, or this month, but who knows what may happen in a few weeks”.

I have no idea how to answer. How many days/weeks/months of celibacy or a slow period qualify you for being not active anymore? From a doctor’s standpoint, I mean. It’s a yes or no question, but it has me so baffled I can’t finish the questionaire. It’s connected to a question about what birth control you’re using. Now I know a lot of married people who could be considered “not sexually active”, but they at least have the potential, having a living, breathing person in the bed with them. Can you not be currently seeing anyone and consider yourself “active”?

So how should I best answer this question, from a medical point of view?

Realistically, it translates to: “have you had sex?”, as a follow up question is usually: “when was your last sexual encounter?” if the answer is yes. It’s designed to determine whether or not your complaint could be related to an STD.

You could test to see if they have a sense of humor by replying, “Well, not at the moment as I’m filling out your GD form.”

You could base further replies on their reaction.

When I encounter that question, I’m always tempted to say “No, my husband complains that I barely move.”

I love filling out such forms. For “Eyes” I enter “Two” for “Sex” I enter “Whenever possible”. My one shining moment was when I got called to the company nurse’s office upon the discovery that under "Who to contact in a medical emergency"I had written “how about a damn doctor?” It only took them six years to find it, our medical cards are supposed to be updated every year…

Beyond that, does sexually active mean intercourse or what? I only ask because of a visit to the urologist posed the same question. I truthfully said no. In what could only be described as an exceedingly awkward moment he almost repeated the question, but asked have you ejaculated in the last two months. He was not worried about STD, he wanted to know if equipment was still functioning. I reserve the answer.

I do agree it is a poorly worded question.

True. For a woman it’s also designed to see if it could be a pregnancy-related problem.

In this case, the question falls under the category of Contraception. It reads: “Are you sexually active? If you are, what form of contraception (birth control) do you use?”

If it had asked, "Have you been sexually active in the past 3(6, 9, 12) months? If so, what form(s) of birth control did you use? I would have no problem answering the question.

I think I’m going to have to go for the smart-alecky answer. It’s the only way.

Only way to travel. Surely they can take a joke. If not, …

So then they’re trying to determine if you’re using an effective form of birth control, right? If you don’t mind my asking, is this a research-type questionnaire? Is it being funded by a pharmaceutical company? I don’t want to ask you to give more information than you’re willing to, here, it just seems like a pretty typical question.

Why do you have a problem with it now? Is it just the vagueness? Because that’s pretty much what they’re asking. Have you had sex? What form of birth control did you use?

This is one of the reasons the question’s posed that way. People get bent out of shape when they’re asked questions about their sexual practices*. Ask them if they’ve had unprotected sex in the past six months or so, and they get all puffed up and pissy, as if they’d never dream of it, even though it happens all the time. People decide they’re great judges of character and this person they’re about to have sex with is a good person, so no condom’s needed.

*please note I am not implying you are offended. Just that lots of people get very defensive.

It’s just an ultrasound and a mammogram I have scheduled. I’m not concerned about the question in and of itself, just that it’s so vague, which is why it makes it hard to answer. I’m not currently in a sexual relationship, but I was a few months ago. So technically I’m not active NOW, but I was…so how far back do they care about? And I could be active again in a few days, given the right set of circumstances…does willingness count? And as I alluded to before, I know lots of married people who aren’t very active sexually…how should they answer if they only have sex once or twice a year?

I just like to be accurate when I answer these things, and the vagueness just bugs me.

Ooops, hit submit too quickly. I was going to add that just asking if I’ve ever had sex is also too vague, especially considering theat the question came AFTER the questions about how many pregnancies have you had! And the fact that there was a ten-year period of celibacy in there…does it really count what birth control you used if you haven’t had sex for a decade?

It may. At any rate, it may make a difference if you used hormonal birth control during that celibate decade or not.

Oh, believe me, I did not waste money on the Pill when the celibacy thing was so much cheaper! And that would be covered under the “What Medications Are You Taking?” header.

But medications mean my high blood pressure medicine, and my anti-seizure medicine, and the steriods for my poison ivy attack a week ago. It doesn’t mean my Depo-Provera implant!

None of which I actually take, by the way. I don’t have any chronic health problems, and celibacy works for me.

There are plenty of women who do use hormonal birth control when not needing the “birth control” part because it reduces cramps and/or bleeding and clotting, and generally makes life easier. You probably knew that.

It is also my opinion that sometimes questionnaires like this repeat questions to catch people like my dad. He went to give blood last year. He denied being under the care of a doctor. Then he read a question about getting a shot in the last 6 weeks. When the bloodmobile person observed him thinking about the matter, she asked him a few questions and marked him deferred for a year. (Suspicion of Lyme’s disease will do that to you.

My doctor asked if I’m sexually active and then the all-damning,* “How many partners have you had in the last 10 years?” * She was so pleased that I’ve been loyal to Mr. K! I think if you have multiples (or serious numbers of multiples they run different tests looking for STDs.

kittenblue I too over-analyze questionaires and forms. It is amazing how poorly worded many of them are. And it is so darn irritating when they ask questions in a round about way. I say go for the snarky answer, when you talk to a human they’ll ask all the same damn stuff anyway. That bugs the hell out of me too. Why did I fill out this form if you aren’t going to read it?