What to expect when seeking help

Seeking help for female sexual problems in Lethbridge, Alberta.

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What to expect when seeking help

Seeking help for female sexual problems can be a challenging and sensitive process. Unfortunately, negative experiences and inadequate responses from healthcare providers are all too common. However, it’s important to recognize that these experiences often stem from discomfort, lack of knowledge, and systemic barriers faced by both women and healthcare professionals. In this web-based guide, we aim to equip you with tools to overcome these barriers and advocate for your sexual health. In this blog post, we will explore the range of responses you may encounter when seeking help for female sexual problems and provide strategies for navigating these encounters.

Women’s experiences when seeking help

Studies on women’s experiences seeking help for sexual dysfunction reveal a range of emotions and outcomes. Many women report frustration, anxiety, shame, and feeling devalued, while fewer experience validation, relief, and satisfaction. Some women have been told that their problems are a natural consequence of aging, parenting, or marriage. Unfortunately, healthcare providers often fail to adequately assess psychological history, perform thorough physical examinations, provide diagnoses, or develop treatment plans. Insufficient attention to women’s sexual health concerns and systemic barriers contribute to these negative experiences.

Understanding healthcare providers’ barriers

Healthcare providers face similar barriers to providing help as women face when seeking it. They may avoid discussing sexual functioning due to discomfort, expectation of patients’ assertiveness, or lack of knowledge. Limited training in sexual health, both in medical and mental healthcare programs, contributes to the inadequate response. Systemic barriers such as time constraints, limited referral options, and the lack of research on women’s sexual dysfunctions further impede healthcare providers’ ability to address these concerns effectively.

Strategies for navigating healthcare encounters

To overcome these barriers and ensure a more productive interaction with healthcare providers, proactive engagement is key. Instead of waiting for your provider to initiate the discussion, take the initiative to bring up your concerns. Educating yourself about healthy sexual function, understanding your symptoms, and researching possible treatment options will empower you in these discussions. Additionally, requesting referrals or seeking healthcare providers who show interest in learning about your condition can greatly improve your experience.

Possible referral options

When seeking help for female sexual problems, your family doctor may not be a sexual medicine specialist. Therefore, referrals may be necessary. These referrals could be for diagnostic tests, such as MRI or CT scans, pelvic floor physiotherapy, counselling (including couples counselling and sex therapy), or specialty consultations. Waiting times for certain referrals, especially in rural areas, may be long. However, being proactive in researching and selecting providers who specialize in your specific concerns can help expedite the process.

Exploring treatment options

The treatment options available for female sexual dysfunctions vary depending on the specific condition, available resources, affordability, and personal preferences. Medical treatments, such as hormone injections or topical creams, changing medications or birth control methods, and hormone replacement therapy, are commonly recommended. Other approaches include education, self-help resources, the use of dilators or dildos, physical therapy, and psychological therapies. It is important to discuss available options with your healthcare provider and consider both conventional and complementary treatments based on your specific needs.

Seeking help for female sexual problems can be challenging, but understanding what to expect and how to navigate healthcare encounters empowers you to advocate for your sexual health effectively. Despite the barriers and negative experiences that women may encounter, proactive engagement, education, and research can lead to more positive outcomes. By working collaboratively with knowledgeable healthcare providers and exploring a range of treatment options, women can address their sexual concerns and achieve improved sexual well-being. Remember, you deserve the care and support necessary to address your sexual health needs.

To read about this topic in significantly more detail, please check out the website What to Do When Sex Doesn’t Feel Right.

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