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Gender Bias and the Female Sexual Health Revolution | Somi Javaid, MD

 

Gender Bias and the Female Sexual Health Revolution | Somi Javaid, MD




vanessa looked broken when i walked into the exam room i extended my hand and i said hello i'm dr javaid can you tell me what's wrong we're going to call her vanessa to protect her privacy she looked me in the eyes and she said i've suffered a stroke i've driven two days to come see you i'm exhausted i've been to doctor after doctor in florida and no one could help me in fact they told me i should just be thankful to be alive dr javade i need you to help me save my marriage i have no libido during our one hour long discussion i pointed out to vanessa that there were multiple treatment options available for her she began to cry for what felt like a really long time she was grieving the amount of time she had lost while getting to me unfortunately vanessa's story is all too common she is just one of millions of women that struggle with sexual dysfunction in fact according to a recent article in a medical journal two out of every five women struggle world wide with their sexual dysfunction these patients often go undiagnosed dismissed and passed from doctor to doctor they endure shame isolation and guilt and when they finally get to a provider they hear things like it's all in your head or drink some wine and you'll be fine or women were born to bleed breed and die i wish i was making that last statement up but that was just said to my patient a few months ago by her gynecologist these repeated dismissals are what have led to up to an eight and a half year delay in diagnosis in medical conditions for women eight and a half years of suffering in silence eight and a half years of feeling like they were broken imagine that you could not be intimate with the person that you love imagine that it hurts to have sex or that you've lost your sex drive imagine now that you judge yourself you ask yourself what is wrong with me you go to the doctor and you find out that there are only two fda approved treatment options for women and 26 for men 26 to 2. your male partner can go to the doctor pretty readily get a diagnosis and get a medication like viagra viagra was fda approved in 1998 in only six months addie the first ever female sexual health drug was fda approved in six years and was not available until ob 2015. like me we specialize in women's healthcare yet our training is limited to anatomy contraception sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy why why are we ignoring an entire body system why are we ignoring the sexual health care of millions of women i'll tell you why there is a glaring gender disparity in sexual health care in the united states women's health care lags behind in research funding and female leadership women our decisions about our bodies about our very health care are not in the hands of women and we are often treated by protocols that are only studied in men leading to a dangerous one-size-fits-all approach and in survey after survey female patients report feeling gender bias at the hands of their providers and despite what we see on tv and in the movies or here with our musical lyrics culturally the us is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to their views on sexuality and the more these patients are dismissed the less likely these female patients are to come forward or to get needed treatment options rendering them invisible women are invisible patients but i believe that there is hope i believe the women's sexual health care revolution is happening now i opened her md five years ago in cincinnati to give all women a safe place to get treatment for their sexual health care we provide access to sexual health care counseling surgery medications and imaging we participate in clinical research trials that are improving female health care as we know it we recognize that female health care is complicated i wish it was as simple as writing a prescription for a patient but that would be like giving her a car filling it with gas and forgetting to give her the keys we have to treat both body and mind her md is one of the few centers around the country that number one specializes in female sexual health care number two takes this multi-disciplinary team approach and number three does so within an insurance model and it's a start we're revolutionizing women's healthcare as we know it and if we circle back to my patient vanessa the last time i saw her she said i'm no longer crying about my sex life in fact she had a big smile on her face and she said her husband was smiling too and getting back to those husbands i believe all men deserve all the health care they have and more i just want women to have equal access to health care i don't believe women should have to drive thousands of miles to get the health care that they need i want women to educate themselves advocate for themselves and empower themselves to align themselves with the provider that will allow them to live their best life women want need and deserve to be visible you  


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