What you Need to Know About Women’s Sexual Health

Sexual health is one of those things that seems to always fall by the wayside. You do the yearly exams, but you want to get out of there instead of setting aside time to talk with your doctor about any challenges you are facing when it comes to sex. Avoiding or refusing to talk about these issues can result in missed early intervention opportunities or simple treatment resolution. Maybe you are embarrassed to mention it. Perhaps you think that is how it is. Either way, there is no excuse great enough to keep you from having an enjoyable sex life. 

Around 4 in 10 women have sexual issues at some point in their lives. If your sexual health concerns you, it’s time to talk about it. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) and pain during sex are two common conditions that women face but are not talked about often. Let’s learn a little more about these conditions and what clinical research is doing to treat them. 

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) 

HSDD is the most common form of female sexual dysfunction. It is defined by a lack of interest in sex for six months or longer that causes personal distress or relationship issues. Many psychological and physical conditions can contribute to HSDD developing. Anxiety, stress, depression, breast cancer, diabetes, certain medications, and thyroid problems are a few examples. 

HSDD can be managed and treated. Your doctor may ask you a series of questions and begin treatment of any underlying conditions that may be causing the HSDD. Current medications you take may be reviewed, and therapy for any mental health issues. For women that have not gone through menopause, there are two FDA approved HSDD treatments. Addyi is a once-daily pill, and Vyleesi is an injection that is administered as needed at least 45 minutes before sexual activity. Seattle Women’s research team were investigators in clinical trials for both Addyi and Vyleesi, so our experience and expertise is unique.

Pain During Sex                                                                

Occasional pain during sexual intercourse is an experience many women have dealt with.  However, if your pain is more than short term or severe, you should talk with your gynecologist. The pain can be felt in the vagina, vulva, perineum, bladder, pelvic region, lower back, or uterus. The pain can stem from an underlying gynecological problem or a sexual response problem. Examples of gynecological problems are endometriosis, ovarian cysts, bacterial infection, skin disorders, or hormonal changes. Vulvodynia is a pain disorder that affects the vulva. 

Sexual response issues cause a lack of desire to engage in sexual activity. The lack of desire can stem from relationship issues, current medications, your state of mind, and medical or surgical condition. Physical therapy, medication, mental health counseling, and surgical treatments may be prescribed to address any existing conditions contributing to the pain. Vulvodynia may be treated with local anesthetics, anti-depressants, Botox, and surgery for severe cases. 

Sexual Health and Clinical Research Studies

The bottom line is, if you are concerned about any sexual health issues, talk with your gynecologist. Clinical research studies are required for every FDA approved treatment for sexual health. However, further research is needed to treat every disorder and provide treatment options for everyone effectively.

Seattle Women’s is currently enrolling participants in a clinical trial for vulvodynia. Our physicians have advanced training in sexual medicine and are available for consultation.

To learn more about this study, please call (206) 522-3330 or visit our website

References:

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Your-Sexual-Health

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/When-Sex-Is-Painful

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