My Take On...

Sexual Health

by PJ Hennessy 2005


No Viagra yet, but lots of options.


Sexual problems in woman have two new medical names:

Female Sexual Dysfunction and Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.


Question to ask: Is this a biologic problem or a relationship problem? As ever it depends upon who’s talking and the many voices are clamoring their point of view.


On the biophysical side there is an incomplete understanding of the female response cycle. It began with the misstep of starting from the male perspective. It turns out that the classic Masters and Johnson model best describes young men. The current model for women acknowledges the complex and circuitous path of female responses and how dramatically we are affected by non-physical factors such as satisfaction in our relationship, our previous sexual experiences and our body image.


Physical factors such as elasticity and moisture of vaginal tissue are of vital importance and reflect estrogens and progesterone levels. Testosterone is most necessary for women with medical or surgical menopause. For women with natural menopause studies are contradictory. DHEA may be a better supplement. There is no Viagra (or Levitra or Cialis) on the near horizon for women. Kirtly Parker Jones MD, a leading gynecologist, reminds us of the power of the other Ts: time, trust, talk, touch, and tenderness!


When issues of sexual dysfunction are raised at Women of a Certain Age, we take the time to carefully discern what domain is problematic: desire, arousal, orgasm pleasure, responsiveness, or other issues. Then we systematically address hormones including thyroid and insulin as well as sleep quality, diet, mood, and any medication that may have sexual dysfunction as a side effect. For some women just vaginal and bladder remedies make all the difference.


This talk of sexual health raises our concerns about the men we love. Studies show DHEA (an adrenal hormone) has been found helpful for weight management (and body image) and libido for men. Over the counter sources may not be reliable, so compounding pharmacies are the way to go here. Have him talk to his doctor.


Noted author Barbara Ehrenreich and others remind us that there is something a little bit creepy about the medicalization of our sexual natures. Satisfying sexuality has always been about seeking more satisfying relationships and becoming a more inspiring partner ourselves rather than just popping a little blue pill.


Amidst all of this serious chatter, what ever happened to “Girls just wanna have fun?"

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