Women, where do you turn when you know something is off “down there?” You may have thoughts such as, “I’m too embarrassed to talk to my doctor.” “Maybe this is normal. It’ll go away.” You’re not alone. Data from a recent study suggests that sexual dysfunction/dissatisfaction is more common in women (43%) than in men (31%)”.
There are different female sexual dysfunctions (FSDs) and many different causes, but so few treatments. When you turn on the television, you see commercials for Viagra® and Cialis®. I think women need to turn on the television and see options for women who have a form of FSD!
According to a 2006 study in the Journal of Sex Education, 64% of women experienced desire difficulty, 31% had arousal difficulty, 35% had orgasm difficulty, and 26% had sexual-related pain. Thankfully, most of these issues can be treated.
Unfortunately, there is no simple cure—no Viagra® for women. The best course of treatment for FSD is to provide education—about human anatomy, sexual function, and changes with aging. Among the recommendations for women are enhancing stimulation, exploring erotica and changing sexual routines. Couples are also encouraged to explore what are called “non-coital behaviors,” sexually stimulating activities other than intercourse, such as sensual massage.
Granted these treatments are not the same as simply taking a pill. But the search for the “pink pill” has been fraught with difficulty. Clinical trials for FSD treatment have not been as successful as hoped, but researchers are still exploring new approaches to treating FSD. Hormone therapy or other pharmaceutical approaches are being explored, so hopefully within the next five years we will start to see television commercials for FSD medications.
In the meantime, though, it would be comforting to see a commercial on television that tells women to talk to their healthcare providers (HCPs). My television commercial idea would be a woman in her 40s talking to the viewer from her home, saying, “The desire for intimacy isn’t something that has to be gone forever. Intimacy can be enjoyable again regardless of your situation. We want you to stay positive! Millions of women are with you! Please talk to your healthcare provider today.” At the very least, this message would help women realize they are not alone, and would hopefully spark some discussion.
However, we not only need to encourage women to talk to their healthcare providers, we need to make sure HCPs are bringing up the subject as well. HCPs can jump start the conversation with simple questions like: Do you have any sexual situations that you would like to discuss? Are you sexually active with men, women, or both? Are you unhappy with your sexual desire, arousal, genital comfort, or orgasm?. Now women, if any of these situations sound like yours, start talking!
Sexual satisfaction has been identified as a major quality-of-life factor—and I think most women would agree that it is, so while there is no female Viagra®, there is hope, and help.
Canner, E. (2008). Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals. Feminism & Psychology.
Walsh, K. (2004). Sexual Dysfunction in the Older Woman. Drugs & Aging .
WebMD, Cleveland Clinic. (2008, January). Female Sexual dysfunction. October 5, 2009,WebMD.
Zakhari, R. (2008). Female sexual dysfunction. American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
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