ISSWSH 2022: Sex and Depression, Marriage and P😇rn, Sexual Justice and More
Last week, our team attended ISSWSH- The International Society For the Study of Women’s Sexual Health. The ISSWSH community is driving exciting research around women’s sexual health. Some highlights included a talk by Dr. Sheryl Kingsberg around how to better meet the sexual health needs of our trans community and common misconceptions of LGBT sexuality and gender fluidity at all ages. Dr. Susan Parish examined the relationship between depression and sexual dysfunction in menopausal women (and the benefits of sleep!). Dr. Crista Johnson-Ugbakwu led a powerful call to advance social justice and sexual health equality for women of color.
One of my personal favorites centered around a rather taboo but relevant topic: Pornography. Dr, Marty Klein, a Psychotherapist and Sex Therapist with 40 years experience in the field gave a compelling presentation on the impact of Pornography in Couplehood titled: When Porn is an Issue: Couples Counseling and Psychotherapy.
His research questioned: Should Men Stop Watching Porn?, Should Women “Make” Men Stop Masturbating?, Why Couples Aren’t Talking About What’s Going on in Their Relationships and How Typical 12 Step Programs or Religious Approaches miss the mark by not addressing the couplehood anywhere in their approach, Common Narratives about Partner Porn Use and more.
These are just some of the many talks at ISSWSH aimed at amplifying the conversation around the sexual health of women at all ages, in all communities, and at every stage of life. We’re beginning to see in medicine, media and the marketplace that there has never been a better time in history to be female. Here are some of the exciting innovations in this space:
ISSWSH developed Nomenclature which includes a Process of Care or POC for clinicians to identify sexual problems in women and provide basic management strategies, taking into account the biological, psychological, sociocultural, and relationship factors that may be playing a role.
Below are key takeaways on the Process of Care and findings from “Mayo Clinic Proceedings from ISSWSH Health Process of Care for the Identification of Sexual Concerns and Problems for Women”
- Process of Care or POC to help healthcare providers not just better communicate, but communicate. “Female Sexual Dysfunction, FSDs are substantially undetected and unaddressed in primary care settings and are often under-treated even when they are recognized”
- “The Process of Care, POC, begins with the expectation of universal screening for sexual concerns and problems and proceeds with a 4-step model that accommodates all levels of engagement…. The consensus recommendation helps care providers access the skills and knowledge required to screen for sexual problems in women.
- Distressing Problems related to desire, arousal and orgasm affect 12% of women across their lifespan.
- A distressing sexual problem was more common in women aged 45-64 (14.8%) than in younger (10.8%) or older (8.9%) women. Similar spatters have been shown in other larger scale studies.
- Most patients want the opportunity to discuss sexual health concerns with their clinician, and they prefer that the clinician bring up the topic.
- “The most fundamental recommendation of this document is simply to ask about sexual satisfaction, concerns, or problems.”