Men who deal with sexual issues or dysfunctions have a host of pharmaceutical options available to them, and doctors who are ever-willing to pull out their prescription pads. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be told to schedule a date with their husbands, or take a bubble bath. That is, if women can even bring themselves to ask their doctors about their sexual issues. Many women simply remain silent on this topic, despite the fact that almost half of all women experience unpleasant or downright painful sex.
Dr. Lauren Streicher wants to help. Her new book, Love Sex Again: A Gynecologist Finally Fixes the Issues That Are Sabotaging Your Sex Life (HarperCollins, April 22), aims to answer the many questions that women are either too embarrassed to ask their doctors, or to which they often receive unhelpful answers.
While there are currently 25 FDA-approved drugs that target men’s sexual lives, there are no approved drugs at all for women, despite a number of promising candidates that have been presented to the FDA. Dr. Streicher believes that this is at least partly a result of women’s hesitation to discuss their sexual issues. As she explained in an interview on the Chicago morning program “Windy City Live,” her goal in publishing this book was to start a national conversation about women’s sex lives.
Dr. Streicher is an Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University’s medical school, a regular contributor to Everyday Health, and a regular expert on The Dr. Oz Show. She is also a frequent guest on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Steve Harvey Show. Her book contains helpful information about many issues that women struggle with, and are often too embarrassed to discuss with their doctor.
For example, as Dr. Streicher explained in an interview with Good Morning America Health, 30% of women experience incontinence at some point in their lives (often after childbirth), but only 20% of those actually talk to their doctor about the issue. Those who do consult their doctor will most frequently advised to perform Kegel exercises. While these can be effective, Dr. Streicher describes a simple, 20-minute outpatient procedure, generally covered by insurance, that can make a huge difference for these women and which many women aren’t aware exists.
Women’s sexual health and happiness can be affected by a wide range of physical, medical, or hormonal issues. Love Sex Again provides frank and honest discussion and advice for these issues, including urinary tract infections, lichen sclerosus (a condition that can affect the skin of the vulva, leaving it thinner than normal, patchy, and white), and sexual issues surrounding hysterectomy.
Since the book discusses many medical issues that may require more extensive conversations with a doctor in order to resolve, it should be seen as more of a starting point than the final solution for all sexual issues. Women should use it to educate themselves, and to gain the confidence and vocabulary to speak directly with their doctors about these issues. If nothing else, the book demonstrates that the issues we may have previously thought of as “weird” or embarrassing are actually quite common. The more women of all ages feel comfortable discussing sexual health and pleasure with their doctors, the sooner we will see women’s sexual health made a priority. Because let’s face it: we need more than bubble baths to solve the issues that we face.