Ah, erectile dysfunction.
Whether those words conjure images of Bob Dole talking about impotence or mature adults in twin hot tubs or walking along the beach holding hands, you’ve seen the advertisements on television, online or in magazines for drugs like Viagra and Cialis. While most of those ads are cringe-worthy, they’re also common in our society; we all know that men grappling with diminished sexual capacity have treatment options that can help them get back to enjoying a healthy sex life.
Did you know that the term erectile dysfunction began not as a medical diagnosis, but was actually created by the designers of Viagra? In order to market this novel drug to men who had trouble maintaining erections and were too embarrassed or unsure of how to easily discuss this common issue with their doctors, an entire “diagnosis” was created to make it more comfortable for guys to get real – and get help.
While you may have heard of the term, “vaginal rejuvenation,” women have had nowhere near as many options, never mind marketing campaigns, aimed at helping them overcome the same kind of common issues. And yet women are far more likely — 43% versus 31% of men – to experience sexual dysfunction.
Sexual enjoyment is important to men and women alike. Sex between two consensual adults can bring about an intimacy and closeness that is unrivaled in other human interactions. Sex can reduce stress. And at a bare minimum (pun intended =) sex is a heart-healthy, enjoyable physical activity that even burns calories. And yet, the emphasis on male sexual rejuvenation vs. female is ingrained in our society.
As a gynecologist that treats women at all phases of their sexual lives, I am passionate about encouraging clients to be honest about their sexual experiences, and to feel empowered to openly talk to me about issues that affect their sexual activity and vaginal health as a whole. Vaginal laxity, dryness, low sensitivity and so on… these are words and phrases that many women understand from experience, but are not often openly discussed. Many women notice significant changes in their bodies alter vaginal deliveries. The post-partum larger opening decreases sensation during sex and can make the act far less enjoyable. For some, there is also less control over their bladders. When estrogen levels decline in the late 40s or early 50s or alter chemotherapy destroys ovarian function, vaginal lubrication may also recede and create noticeable discomfort.
The good news – which I’m happy to discuss openly and honestly! – is that there are safe and effective treatments out there for women facing sexual dysfunction. Hormone therapy is one widely known and discussed treatment, but it’s sometimes contraindicated medically or doesn’t work completely. In my search for others, I have found minimally invasive treatments that help with these issues, notably a non-surgical, collagen enhancing “facelift” for your vagina with a tool from Viveve called the Geneveve Treatment.
The Geneveve is a pain-free, quick 30-minute treatment that has been shown to reconfigure the collagen in the vagina to add to the tensile strength and improve self-lubrication. By tightening the vagina, patients have reported an increase in sexual satisfaction and sensation. It also can help with urinary incontinence.
Unfortunately, not many people have heard of this treatment, nor does there seem to be a tactful or accepted shorthand (like “Viagra”) that conveys this option. In my opinion, we need a sexy word to let women know that it’s okay to admit sex has changed for them. That they can and should ask their doctors to help repair and rebuild their vaginas in order to make sex a more satisfying activity for themselves and, in the processes, their partners as well.
Without a giant marketing budget, and within the confines of my practice’s blog, I’m here to shout from the rooftops: there is help, there is hope. It starts with women finding their voice, and being open and honest about something that affects both women and men alike: sexual dysfunction.
Together We’ll Find A Way
If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, laxity or other factors contributing to a diminished, unsatisfying sex life, let me know. My staff and I are here to help you with answers and options for better sexual health – and satisfaction.
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