Health and Sex

An overview of the medical aspects of sexual functioning

Many health issues and medical conditions can adversely affect individuals' experience of their sexuality and couples' sex lives.

Any acute or chronic disease that causes feelings of unwellness, fatigue, fear, stress or pain will usually have an adverse effect on an individual's and couple's sex life.

Painful sex will inevitably lead to a reduced interest because it is very difficult to return to a sexual activity that causes repeated pain for what is meant to be a pleasurable experience. Women can experience painful sex due to pelvic conditions including endometriosis and also conditions such as 'vulvodynia' and 'vaginismus'. These conditions need a specialist medical assessment and may need a team approach with other health professionals.

Even natural life changes such pregnancy, menopause and ageing itself will result in changes in sexual functioning.
Some of these changes then lead to sexual problems which need to be addressed.

People who undergo treatment for cancer or other serious medical conditions may be left with hair loss, surgical disfigurement or symptoms that cause distress - e.g. post treatment pain, colostomies or incontinence. There are many conditions and the consequences of treatment that impact on a person's self esteem and sense of well being. Even the stress of coping with a serious medical condition and the impact it has on the whole of one's life (effects on the intimate relationship, effects on family, friendships and work to name a few) can adversely impact on the very desire for engaging in sexual activity.

When people face accidents with physical consequences, usually sex is the last thing on their minds. However, as time goes by and as life must be lived, sexuality is an important topic to consider and ought to be brought up and discussed compassionately by your doctor. If this has not been your experience, I am able to understand and assess your needs for a more fulfilling sex life and am able to liaise with your GP or specialists to help in the best way possible for you to achieve your hoped-for sexual needs.

No matter whether people are born with disabilities or whether they acquire them later on, their sexual needs in the face of their physical or intellectual challenges need to be respected and addressed. If you believe that your sexual needs are not being addressed with the health professionals already involved in your care, I am prepared to talk to you about your particular situation and offer the best possible solutions.

Often doctors and other health providers are so focussed on their area of expertise that they may forget to think of the sexual needs of a patient. It can also be that they do not feel adequately qualified or may even think it is intrusive and inappropriate to bring up the topic of sex.

If you need support and advice regarding sex in the context of your individual health situation, please do feel free to consult with me.

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