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Miami VA Healthcare System

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Sexual Wellness: It’s Good For Your Health

OB-GYN Jacquelyn Paykel, M.D., and RN Shywan Adamski consult with a Veteran.

OB-GYN Jacquelyn Paykel, M.D., right, and Shywan Adamski, RN, consult with a Veteran. There are sexual health-related services for men and women Veterans at many Miami VA facilities.

By Jacquelyn M. Paykel, M.D., OB-GYN
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Having a good sex life is not the only way to feel close to your partner, but it certainly can help. Scientific studies have proven there are many physical, psychological and emotional benefits that result from a healthy sex life. After all, it’s not just good for your relationships with your significant other, it’s good for your overall health.

It is not uncommon for men or women to have sexual dysfunction at some time during their lives. It may be a lifelong problem, or an acquired condition. It can occur in some situations and not in others.

Typical conditions of sexual dysfunction for men include:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Ejaculation disorders

Typical conditions of sexual dysfunction for women include:

  • Low interest in sex (low libido)
  • Impaired response to sexual play
  • An inability or impaired ability to climax
  • Sexual pain disorders

Many things can cause men or women to have problems with their sexual health, including reduced hormone levels (such as low T), underlying diseases (such as depression and diabetes), medication side effects (such as opioid pain medication), lifestyle choices (such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption) and relationship difficulties.

Have you talked with your VA health care team about your sexual health concerns? If not – you should! If you feel uncomfortable about bringing up the topic, you are not alone. Many people have difficulty starting the conversation with their doctor or health care team about their sexual health. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Here are some suggestions on how to start the sexual health conversation with your health care team:

  1. Use your My HealtheVet Secure Messaging account to write a private message to your doctor.
  2. Bring an article from a newspaper, magazine or the Internet and ask questions about it.
  3. Bring your special someone with you to your next appointment, so they can bring it up.
  4. Mention your concern while checking in at the computer kiosk for an appointment or while the nurse is checking you in. Then, your provider knows to ask you about it.

The medical community now knows a lot more about normal sexual function in both men and women. We also know more about sexual dysfunction and have better ways to treat it.

Available treatments at our hospital and clinics may include specialty medical care in urology and gynecology, counseling by a psychologist specializing in sexual therapy (for individuals and couples), medications (such as Viagra), hormone therapy (such as testosterone and estrogen), physical therapy, surgery and others.

Services vary by facility. The best place to start the discussion is with your VA primary care provider.

Your VA health care team’s goal for you is not just the absence of disease, but an overall feeling of well-being. We don’t just want to help you survive, we are dedicated to helping Veterans thrive! That means we must all pay attention to every aspect of your health and well-being, including physical, psychological, emotional and sexual.

For more articles on health and wellness, read the latest issue of Veterans Health Matters magazine at www.visn8.va.gov/VISN8/news/publications.asp.

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