Comprehensive Care for the Full Spectrum of Female Sexual Health Disorders
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The female sexual health team at University Hospitals believes that sexual concerns or problems are treatable medical conditions that must be evaluated and treated like any other disorder if the patient is to achieve optimum health and well-being.
Assessment by a multidisciplinary team is essential given that sexual dysfunction can be caused by a combination of factors, including:
- Biological: Sex drive is influenced by hormones like estrogen and testosterone and brain chemicals such as dopamine, which increases it, and serotonin, which decreases it.
- Psychological: The personal beliefs, cultural customs and religious ideas you were raised with that can increase or decrease your sexual desires. Also, certain psychological factors such as past experiences, sexual trauma and mental health issues like anxiety and depression, can adversely affect your sexual health.
- Physical: There are many physical conditions that may contribute to sexual dysfunction including traumatic injuries, cancer treatment, postpartum birth injuries, dermatological conditions, chronic diseases like epilepsy and the physical and psychological changes that occur with menopause.
It is important to know that, regardless of the cause or combination of causes, almost all sexual disorders can be diagnosed and successfully treated. You just need the right team. And now, the right team is at University Hospitals and we can help.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Female Sexual Conditions
Many of the problems listed below can be rooted in physical and/or psychological issues. Our team conducts a thorough evaluation of each patient so that we may refer them to the appropriate specialist(s) for care.
The conditions and disorders that can affect a woman’s sexual health include:
- Arousal problems - A lack of response to sexual stimulation.
- Dermatological conditions
- Dyspareunia - Difficult or painful sexual intercourse.
- Fecal incontinence
- Gender Identity - If gender identity (dysphoria) is a factor in an individual’s sexual dysfunction, UH reconstructive surgeons, including Rachel Pope, MD, MPH, collaborate with urologists and plastic surgeons to offer male to female and female to male gender affirmation surgeries. And, the sexual health team offers care and support after surgery.
- Genital trauma and/or mutilation
- Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) - A group of symptoms that include genital dryness, burning, and irritation; sexual symptoms including lack of lubrication and painful intercourse; and urinary symptoms like urgency or painful urination.
- Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
- Low Libido/Sexual Desire
- Menopausal changes - Hormonal and psychological changes during or after menopause can lead to painful intercourse and/or changes in sexual drive.
- Orgasmic disorders - An inability to orgasm or pain with orgasm
- Painful intercourse
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Pelvic pain
- Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) - the prolonged feeling of arousal or arousal at times when it is not intended.
- Postpartum birth injuries
- Sexual Dysfunction in Cancer Survivors – specialized care for women who have gone through or are going through cancer treatments and want to restore their sexuality.
- Urinary incontinence
- Vulvo-vaginal disorders
Sexual dysfunction may also be associated with chronic diseases such as anxiety, depression, hypertension, diabetes, neurological conditions like epilepsy and thyroid conditions. Our sexual health team will discuss these conditions with you and either recommend treatments or refer you to a specialist who can help. In many cases, sexual dysfunction may be a side effect of the medications taken for these disorders.
Personalized Sexual Health Treatment Plans for Every Woman
At University Hospitals, our female sexual health specialists understand that most sexual health concerns, both physical and psychological can be successfully treated or managed through a variety of therapies. Our first step is always to get to know the whole woman - to see the big picture - so that we can determine the best treatment or combination of treatments to help restore her sexual health and improve her quality of life.
Treatments may include:
- Hormone replacement therapy. Estrogen and testosterone supplements may help restore sexual drive and, when delivered locally in the form of creams or suppositories, can decrease vaginal dryness.
- Non-hormonal treatment options. For those women who prefer to avoid hormones, there are many other options available.
- Cognitive therapy and couples counseling. Our sensitive and highly trained therapists work with women and couples to understand and address any psychological factors that may be contributing to the loss of sexual desire.
- Laser treatment. For the select individual, laser treatment can be just as effective as medications to improve vulvo-vaginal symptoms.
- Medications. There are some FDA approved medications to restore sexual desire in women. Our team will work to fully understand your situation to determine if medications might be helpful for you.
- Medical devices. For some vaginal conditions, the use of vaginal dilators may be recommended to increase blood flow to the vagina and gradually stretch the tissues and muscles.
- Nerve blocks. Sometimes pelvic pain can be lessened or resolved by numbing the nerves that cause the pain.
- Surgery. When genital injury or disease is a factor, our team has the expertise to perform a wide range of surgical procedures to help these patients.
- Gender affirmation surgery. If gender identity is a factor, our team works with highly trained and specialized reconstructive urologists and plastic surgeons to perform the surgery and guide you through this important transition.
- Clinical trials. Our patients have access to clinical trials of innovative treatments and therapies that focus on finding new ways to help women with sexual health concerns.