Getting Honest about Women’s Sexual Health  

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Getting Honest about Women’s Sexual Health  Nearly two decades ago the first medicine for erectile dysfunction was approved. The media and advertising that followed helped normalize the condition and created public conversations about male sexual dysfunction. Unfortunately, although more women in the United States experience sexual health issues than men, much less attention has been paid to these problems. Many women are uncomfortable talking about sexual health issues, even to their healthcare providers.

There are a number of unique challenges and changes that occur in a woman’s body – at all stages of life – that can affect her sexually. In fact, multiple landmark surveys show that nearly half of all women questioned report sexual complaints such as pain during intercourse.

For example, moderate to severe painful sex due to menopause can affect women for nearly three decades – the average length of time a woman is post-menopausal. Declining estrogen levels after menopause cause specific vaginal tissue changes that can lead to a condition known as “dyspareunia,” which is when sex is actually painful. Women often think that it will go away on its own and are hesitant to talk about it with their doctors and even their partners. What many women don’t know is that dyspareunia after menopause is a chronic and progressive condition that only worsens over time without treatment, which is why it’s so important to discuss symptoms – like painful sex – with your healthcare provider.

There is still a lot of work to be done to “even the playing field” but there have been some recent advances for women that can help make a difference. Additionally, as more women speak up about their experience and concerns, the fact that these are common conditions will help empower women to seek treatment.

Women’s sexual issues are complex, but that doesn’t mean women have to suffer. Women should talk with their healthcare providers because there are treatment options available that may help.

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