Is it Sexual Dysfunction?
ESC Congress Library. Hamilton R. May 10, 2018; 208125; ESC159
Ms. R. Hamilton
Ms. R. Hamilton
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Notwithstanding the frequency and the reality of female sexual dysfunction, are we - as health professionals - too quick to label a perceived sexual issue as a dysfunction? Many women (and couples) will joke about the situation and feign a positive in low libido or desire. However, the effects are more often left not discussed with any level of seriousness. We are collectively improving to raise such intimate questions during sexual health or gynaecological clinical visits, but are we also ignoring some of the more obvious issues that may contribute - yet are not the cause - of sexual dysfunction? Broadening our own minds and being prepared to utilise various learning strategies to better equip ourselves to explorative - yet not such invasive - questions is quite a task for some. To normalise the questions to also ensure comfort for both the clinician and the patient is a skill set that should not be underestimated. The ability to initiate such questions in an effective communicative yet comprehensive style is critical, as inquiring about sexual history, experience and issues relating to intimacy and behaviours is difficult. Yet the simple statement of ‘..if you don't ask the right question, you won't receive the right answer, therefore you may not undertake the key investigation' is often overlooked. Effective communication explores - in a non-threatening manner - the variables associated with all of the potential and key elements of sexual dysfunction. It is also valuable to remember that we should explore outside of the box, what we might suggest as practical treatment modalities. It is worth noting, that some treatment modalities may, in fact, heighten the issue of the dysfunction. This is due to the degree of clinical intervention, versus practical intervention associated with maintaining the word ‘normal' and assisting the patient to maintain a degree of intimacy within a relationship during this difficult time. Examples of case presentations that were originally labelled as a sexual dysfunction are highlighted in this presentation. It will highlight the need to explore from a broad range of potential factors associated not only with sexual behaviour or sexually transmitted infections. Health professionals within this area must remember the issues of intimacy - and what impacts upon desire. 
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