Skin Conditions Can Adversely Affect Your Sexual Health
The connection between skin conditions and sexual dysfunction is not always recognized by healthcare providers. Yet, it has been shown that patients with skin diseases are less likely to experience regular intimacy and that women, in particular, have a reduced capacity to reach orgasm when there is a coexisting skin disorder. Whether this is due to pain and discomfort or embarrassment, the female sexual health team at University Hospitals acknowledges that skin diseases need to be addressed if the patient is to achieve optimum sexual health.
The UH Female Sexual Health Program collaborates with UH dermatologists who are sensitive to this issue and can treat any and all skin disorders, including those that are interfering with your sex life. Our doctors provide a knowledgeable and compassionate resource for patients dealing with these conditions.
Comprehensive Diagnostics and Treatments for Skin Diseases
In addition to the more common skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, there are other skin disorders that can affect the genitals and limit one’s ability to engage in and enjoy sex. These include:
- Vulvar Lichen Sclerosis. This is a chronic inflammatory condition that is characterized by changes to the skin of the external genitals. Although some patients have no additional symptoms, others may experience intense itching, a burning sensation, painful sex or painful defecation. It most commonly occurs in young girls before puberty or in post-menopausal women.
- Vulvo-Vaginal Lichen Planus. Lichen planus is a skin condition that can affect any part of the body including the nails and mucous membranes of the mouth and genitals. It appears as flat, purplish bumps and can cause swelling, irritation and intense itching. When it develops on the vulva or vagina, it can cause persistent ulcers and pain with intercourse.
Lichen sclerosis and lichen planus are believed to be autoimmune disorders and there is no cure. However, they can usually be managed with topical prescription corticosteroid creams. In some severe cases, oral medications and/or injections may be recommended.
- Lichen Simplex Chronicus. This is a condition in which an area of skin becomes tough and thickened due to injury from repeated scratching or rubbing of the area. It can occur anywhere on the body, including the genitals where it is often persistent and can cause painful intercourse. Treatment involves topical steroid creams and/or injections.
- Hidradenitis Suppurativa. An inflammatory skin condition that most often develops in areas where the skin rubs together including the armpits, groin folds, buttocks and under the breasts. The rash is characterized by small painful lumps under the skin that can break open and become inflamed. Treatment may include oral antibiotics and/or hormone therapy.