Women do not have to resign themselves to sexual dysfunction. With the type of comprehensive treatment we provide—delivered in an environment of privacy, dignity and respect—90 percent of our patients experience improvement in their sexual health.
With the plethora of ads for erectile dysfunction treatments that dominate the media, it would seem that only men experience sexual dysfunction. Yet it’s estimated that about 40 percent of American women cope with the condition at some point in their lives. Even though the subject is not yet getting the public attention it deserves, the development of a greater understanding of female sexual dysfunction (FSD) and a multi-faceted treatment approach are providing significant improvements to the majority of women who seek the right care.
Many women initially turn to their general practitioners or gynecologists for treatment of FSD. Although these physicians can rule out some of the underlying health problems connected to FSD, they often do not have the time or the specialized training needed to address the complexities of the condition.
The treatment of female sexual dysfunction focuses on six domains: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain. Typically, problems in these areas are intertwined. For example, a patient who experiences chronic vaginal pain will probably also suffer from lack of desire and have difficulty achieving orgasm and satisfaction.
“During the initial evaluation of the patient, a significant amount of time is spent reviewing the medical history and delving into the patient’s description of her sexual frustrations, says Megan Wright, FNP-BC, Premier Women’s Center for Continence and Sexual Health’s specialist in female sexual dysfunction. “At this point, the patient typically feels like there will never be any relief for her symptoms; but throughout this initial visit we will explore the various individualized treatment options which may provide the patient the relief she has been in search of.”
Wright then performs a physical exam of the patient’s genital region under the magnification of a vulvoscope, looking for the signs of conditions that might contribute to FSD. “Part of the work-up includes a serum hormone panel, not only for a baseline reference but also to guide our treatment while maintaining safe patient management,” says Wright. Blood tests will provide valuable information and help focus the treatment approach. “For example, with a vulvoscopy I will be able to assess for signs of irritation to either the patient’s tissues or her genital glands and make recommendations regarding the use of vulvar soothing creams that can be applied.”
Treatments that work
“Several topical creams, consisting of various combinations of estrogen and testosterone therapeutics are used locally on the genitals,” says Wright. “Putting hormones back into the tissues helps to restore a healthy environment. For patients who prefer a more homeopathic route, we have several options, such as vitamin supplements to help increase testosterone and herbal treatments which can bind to the patient’s neurotransmitter dopamine, elevating the patient’s excitatory stage.”
A variety of other medications are available to address problems in various areas of FSD. “We may prescribe oxytocin, to be taken 30 minutes prior to intimate relations, to help women in their orgasmic phase,” says Wright, “and physical therapy to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and enhance sexual satisfaction.”
“As research continues to be done in female sexual dysfunction, we are able to bring these therapies to our patients in the hope of improving not only their sexual health but also increasing their quality of life and well-being.” This is a distressing topic for many women to discuss, so it is our utmost priority to maintain their privacy while we provide them with the highest level of evidence-based care.”