The First Step to Treating Female Sexual Dysfunction is Starting the Conversation

Couple-Holding-HandsFor years, male sexual dysfunction has been top-of-mind, illustrated through marketing campaigns for pharmaceuticals like Viagra and Cialis. These well-recognized ads show men of all types taking action to improve intimacy with their partners. There’s dancing and romancing following the introduction of the advertised drug, all from the male perspective.

But wait—what about the women?

“About 43 percent of premenopausal women will have some type of sexual dysfunction,” said Cynthia Bednarchik, a family nurse practitioner at Southern Illinois University Healthcare. Bednarchik works in collaboration with Memorial Medical Center’s Urology Services to treat patients struggling with a wide variety of urological issues, including women’s sexual health.

“Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), or a low desire for sexual intimacy, is definitely one of the biggest issues for women,” Bednarchik said.

Yet, it’s a topic hardly anyone is talking about.

Just last week, the FDA approved a new drug called Addyi (also known as Flibanserin) for HSDD, which has the potential to provide another way for women to take control of female sexual dysfunction. However, it is by no means the only resource available.

“Women will say they are waiting for their physician to ask the questions, and the physician could be waiting for the woman to ask the question regarding their sexual health,” Bednarchik said.

According to Bednarchik, you have to understand a patient’s story before knowing which treatment is best.

“I’ll take a look at her history, symptoms, lab tests and physical exam; we then talk about the best treatment plan for her diagnosis,” she said. “There are various options to treat common issues like vaginal dryness, including non-hormonal and hormonal medications. Painful intercourse and low libido are also a common problem for many women that we can address with various treatment options. Having an open dialogue with women about sexual concerns or problems is vital to improving the sexual health of women. I may recommend physical therapy or mindfulness (learning how to be in the moment), or other skills, all of which can really make a huge difference.”

Cynthia Bednarchik, MSN, FNP-BC

Cynthia Bednarchik, MSN, FNP-BC is a family nurse practitioner who sees patients in both Springfield and Decatur. She works on a multidisciplinary team in the evaluation and treatment of sexual medicine, female and male sexual dysfunction, infertility and other urological disorders. She can be reached at 217-545-7123.