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Handbook On Female Sexual Health And Wellness

Clinical Competencies For Sexual Health: Top 10 Things You Should Know

A multidisciplinary panel of sexual health experts, convened by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), identified the top 10 things frontline health care providers need to know about female sexual health to talk knowledgeably about the subject with their patients, initiate treatment, or refer. Here, presented in random order are their recommendations:

  1. Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is the most common female sexual dysfunction (1 in 10 women suffer from HSDD)
  2. Female sexual response may be influenced by neurotransmitters and other chemicals in the brain:
    • Dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, opioids, and melanocortins are contributors to the sexual response cycle
    • Our understanding of the neurobiologic mechanisms involved in the sexual response is in its infancy.
  3. Medications and medical conditions can both have profound effects on sexual function
  4. Depression and its treatment commonly affect sexual function
  5. Anger/resentment may be an underlying factor in sexual dissatisfaction and disorders
  6. Vulvovaginal atrophy is common and can be treated
  7. Most women want their health care provider to bring up the topic of sexuality during routine visits
  8. Often, one open-ended question takes the same amount of time as several closed-ended questions
  9. Use of the PLISSIT model (see here) for history-taking and therapy can be helpful when working with women who have a sexual dysfunction
  10. It is important to refer appropriately

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