I think most people would agree sexual health is an important dimension of overall health. The World Association of Sexual Health’s Declaration of Sexual Rights states that sexual rights are grounded in universal human rights and that sexuality is a source of pleasure and well-being that contributes to fulfillment and satisfaction. And the WHO states that sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being, not just the absence of disease or dysfunction. It is known that sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach within relationships and the protection of diversity.
As a health care practitioner, it is important for me to prioritize and to understand the issues that are impacting everyone’s overall health. This includes sexual health. Women most commonly ask sex related questions of their Ob-Gyn’s over other types of practitioners. Unfortunately, Ob-Gyn’s and other physicians are not well educated on these issues in medical school or residency. Better late than never – there are many organizations that are excellent resources for information and continuing education in this area of health care. In the past, few years I have been fortunate to attend conferences by the North American Menopause Society and ISSWSH – The International Society for Women’s Sexual Health. I have learned that two of the biggest impediments to sexual health are excessive stress and problems with sleep. With that information it would seem one is doomed; we all deal with plenty of stress and sleep disruption. How can you possibly enjoy a positive sexual experience throughout one’s life? As with anything else one’s sexuality and sexual experiences are on a continuum and will evolve and fluctuate depending on many factors. The good news is that science has also evolved to help optimize one’s sexual functioning and to deal with specific problems that may arise.
I encourage women to take advantage of the many sources of sex positive organizations and providers available to us all today. “Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose.” John Prine. In other words, it cannot hurt to ask or to inquire about methods to optimize sexual functioning. Sex therapists and educators as well as sex aid retailers are among the well-informed resources to help women to better equip themselves to prevent and deal with problems. Some of the tools include body safe lubricants, moisturizers, vibrators and other mechanical means to enhance sexual responsiveness. In the Durex Global Sex Survey (41 countries/N=317,000) up to 52% of women used vibrators and 62% moisturizers. In another study of 245 women ages 18-68, 75% purchased lubricant in the previous 4 weeks and 96% stated it was for “greater sexual comfort” and 94% for “increased ease of orgasm”. (J Sex Med. 2013 Feb;10(2):484-92. 12/2012) Vibrators have evolved from the first steam powered vibrator in 1869 as have societal attitudes and understanding of these issues. The original vibrators in the US at the turn of the 20th century were used to treat female “hysteria” and in the 1960’s they were publicly recognized only as beauty aids rather than devices used for sexual pleasure. Then in 1998 the TV show Sex and the City finally made popular the idea that vibrators are indeed instruments of sexual pleasure.
Now, in addition to Viagra and Cialis and testosterone replacement therapy for both sexes, we have the O shot and the P shot. The O and the P shots are without a doubt novel and innovative methods to enhance female and male sexual performance respectively. They use the patients’ own plasma or PRP (platelet rich plasma) and work primarily by providing growth factors in key areas that affect sexual responsiveness and female incontinence. There is essentially no risk involved with the procedure and very little (if any) discomfort associated with it. I am very excited to offer both therapies today in my practice as well as the full range of therapies available to us today to enhance both male and female sexual health and well-being.