What is Sexual Medicine
Sexual Medicine supports women with such sexual health concerns as low desire, difficulty with orgasm, and pelvic pain, with the goal of optimizing their sexual health. We take women’s sexual concerns seriously and believe that women deserve to be heard and treated with respect. We provide a comprehensive assessment to inform accurate, timely diagnoses and effective, evidenced-based treatment options for women with a wide range of sexual concerns.
Sexual Health is Essential to Overall Health
Sexual health is an important aspect of women’s quality of life and overall health. Concerns about sexual health are common for women. In fact, at least 40% of women report distress about sexual functioning at some point in their lives. These issues can have wide-ranging effects that impact all areas of women’s lives. Discussing these issues is often difficult for women. However, treatments are available and talking with a sexual medicine provider can help.
Sexual Health Problems
Sexual health problems can present in many different ways: pelvic pain related to vulvar and vaginal skin disorders, hypertonic pelvic floor muscles (previously called vaginismus), interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, or fibroids. Pain at the opening to the vagina (called vestibulodynia), for example, can be caused by low hormone levels, menopause, or oral contraceptive use. Low sexual desire in women can result from multiple reasons, including medication side effects, chronic health issues, stress from relationship difficulties, and low hormone levels, among other causes. Many women also experience difficulty achieving orgasm or maintaining arousal and lubrication.
Risk Factors for Sexual Health Problems
Women’s sexual health problems can have many causes: Medications, chronic medical conditions, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, menopause, relationship issues, trauma and abuse, generalized stress, shame and lack of knowledge can all contribute to sexual inhibition, frustration, and distress.
In addition, treatments for cancer can also cause profound changes in a women’s sexuality. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and adjunctive hormone therapy can all lead to pain, decreased sensation, body image changes, vaginal dryness and atrophy, and many other problems that can lead to short- and long-term sexual difficulties.
Treatments for Sexual Health Issues
Women’s sexual health is related to multiple physical and psychological factors. Therefore, we take a comprehensive, biopsychosocial approach to treating sexual dysfunction and distress. Treatment often begins with counseling and education about sexuality, anatomy, and the normal sexual response cycle. Treatment options range from moisturizers, lubricants, and dilators to medication and hormonal therapy. We will work closely with you to determine which treatments are right for your condition.
The Sexual Medicine program at Women’s Health of CMA also collaborates closely with pelvic floor physical therapists, sex therapists and counselors, gynecologists, oncologists, and a wide-range of specialists to offer a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to sexual health.
What to Expect at Your First Visit
Many women are nervous about seeing a sexual medicine provider because they do not know what to expect. We provide a supportive, compassionate, sex-positive environment to discuss your sexual concerns. Your first appointment will typically last 60 minutes, during which you will meet with a nurse practitioner who specializes in sexual medicine who will review your sexual and medical history and then perform a physical exam. Any concerns about the physical exam will be fully addressed during this appointment. Possible diagnoses and treatment options will then be discussed. Sexual problems usually do not arise over night and their treatment can take time. Our goal is that you leave your first appointment knowing that your concerns were heard, that treatments are available, and that we are here to help.