When my doctor takes my history, she always asks the standard "do you drink/smoke?", but then instead of following it with, "are you sexually active?", she just asks if I have a boyfriend. It just always makes me a little uncomfortable. I'm as single as the day I was born, and I've never dated anyone, but it doesn't mean I'm not having sex (I'm not, but… I could be). Is there a polite way to let her know I don't like the phrasing of her question? I'm there to focus on health, not my singleness.
Maybe next time she asks if you have a boyfriend, say “no, and I’m not having sex either.” Tell her something along the lines of “you don’t have to have a boyfriend to have sex.” Or even ask her if she wants to know about your marital status or your sexual history. Those are, in most cases, very different things. Approach her question respectfully and help her to realize that her question is not the right way to phrase things.
Asking if you have a boyfriend is not an appropriate way to assess your sexual history or risk factors. What if you had a girlfriend? What if you were single but you were a sex worker? What if you were married and having an affair? What if you had been raped? None of those is covered by asking you if you have a boyfriend. I don’t even like the “are you sexually active” question. It doesn’t cover sexual history. Our ID docs usually start with the question “do you have sex” (at any time in your life). Then you can get more specific from there, and ask #of partners (gender really doesn’t matter all that much) and whether they use barrier protection.
I’d agree with your discomfort here, anon, and my situation matches yours. It’s appropriate to ask marital status in a social history, but it is not a substitute for sexual history.