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Information for Women

General Information for Female Patients

A woman’s sexual health has a major impact on her overall health. Female sexual dysfunction (FSD), which is characterized by disorders of sexual desire, arousal, orgasm and/or sexual pain, may be associated with significant personal distress. It is appropriate to seek treatment when sexual dysfunction causes personal distress, impacting negatively on quality of life and interpersonal relationships. One third of all women, regardless of age, have diminished sexual interest, nearly one fourth of all women do not experience orgasm and one fifth of women suffer sexual pain disorders. Our experience reveals that most sexual disorders in women are based on mind, body, and relationship issues.

The most common complaints of sexual dysfunction are decreased desire, decreased arousal capabilities, decreased orgasmic capabilities, diminished lubrication, painful intercourse, and decreased vaginal and clitoral sensation. Six out of ten women present with the multidimensional complaint of problems with desire, arousal and orgasm. We also see women with depression, many of whom are taking antidepressants, known to be associated with sexual dysfunction. More than 20% of the women evaluated in our clinic do not recover sexual function after childbirth. Hysterectomy, menopause and peri-menopause, infections, decreased androgens or estrogens, prescription medications, pain and breast cancer are other important factors that may impact female sexual function.

You will notice upon your arrival at the Center for Sexual Medicine that our staff is comprised of both men and women and it is likely that both genders will be involved in your medical care. In addition, there may be a visitor or two learning about the diagnosis and treatment of female sexual dysfunction. It is possible, and only with your permission, that one or more of these visitors could be present during your evaluation. Part of the mission of the Institute for Sexual Medicine is the training and education of health care clinicians, so women everywhere will have access to sexual health care. Please communicate with us about any issues that may arise during your visit(s). If at any time you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, it is very important that you immediately convey this to our staff.

While not all evaluations are identical, your initial visit will likely be much longer than a typical doctor’s appointment. In some cases you may spend 2 -3 hours for the initial evaluation, or you may be asked to return to the clinic for several shorter visits. We encourage you to include your partner on your visits. After an initial opportunity to ask questions about the facility, you will undergo a standard psychologic evaluation with a sex therapist. A thorough medical, psychosocial and sexual history will also be taken. You will then undergo a physical examination, which may include a Pap smear, pelvic exam and/or a breast exam. These should not take the place of your yearly exam with your gynecologist or primary care physician. If it is clinically indicated, you will undergo a series of blood tests including assessment of androgen and estrogen blood hormones. This will be followed, if indicated, by specialized testing of genital blood flow and sensation. These are measured while you view a video of a sexual nature. All testing will be done in a professional manner. The results of your evaluation will be reviewed and a treatment plan will be developed based on your information.

Communication is critical to the restoration of sexual health. We offer traditional telephone consultation (617 638-8576) and, on occasion, e-mail communication ( should questions arise between visits. We understand that the whole experience may seem overwhelming, but we will do our utmost to see that you feel safe and comfortable during the entire management process.

Because women’s sexual health problems (FSD) are multi-faceted in nature, the diagnostic procedures and treatments are diverse. We ask that you be patient and positive as we try to help you as best we can. It has been our experience in women’s sexual health that over 70% of patients can realize marked improvement in their sexual function and quality of life.

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Primary teaching affiliate
of BU School of Medicine