Healthy sexuality is more than just the act of having (or not having) sex.
On the mental, emotional side it involves understanding our sexual nature and owning our life as a sexual being, learning about our preferences, being empowered to articulate those preferences, holding boundaries while participating in intimacy (with the self and with others), and practicing the giving and receiving of pleasure. From a primarily physical perspective, sexual health involves safety around STIs, recognizing abuse and the potential for further harm (mental, physical, emotional), education about pregnancy and contraception if applicable, and addressing conditions for health that can allow for physical sexual function, such as reducing pain associated with intercourse or treating erectile dysfunction. Sex and sexuality can rarely be separated into either a physical or mental piece; much of our dysfunction around sex is entwined between the body, the mind, and the emotional state.
Sexual dysfunction, in any form, may cause health concerns of its own. A change in sexual performance, infections, pain, addictions and/or shame and guilt around sexual expression may reduce our ability to connect intimately and romantically with others, but most importantly may affect our relationships with the self and the way we express or carry ourselves. Sexual health in its many forms is an integral part of feeling well and whole, though it is not often addressed medically from a reductionist point of view. We are typically sent to see a specialist for any sexual issues, and that separation of sexual health from our general lifestyle, self-confidence, self-perception and overall health can be misleading, for they are often connected and inter-influencing.
Expectations around foreplay, sexual acts and post-coitus can be damaging to authentic sexual relationships, especially when those expectations were informed by anyone outside of the people interacting sexually. Pleasure felt during sexual intimacy is another important consideration and understanding what that means for each of us in our sexual relationships, chiefly the one we have with ourself, is quite a large part of sexual health.
Sexual health is also influenced by other factors that affect our perception of sexuality and our comfort in our own skin. Concerns such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Weight Changes or Skin Rashes can take us out of the moment and negatively impact our enjoyment of sex, or cause us to avoid it completely.
How naturopathic medicine can identify and address the deeper cause(s) of sexual dysfunction
- Understanding any pathological, infectious or inflammatory processes through a history intake, physical exam and/or genital exam (including full pelvic exam as needed), swabs or cultures, blood tests, etc
- If the diagnosis is outside the scope of naturopathic treatment, a referral will be made
- Identifying hormonal contributions through questionnaires and lab testing
- Discussion around sexuality and the role it plays in your life; how you see it; your ideas about sexuality; barriers to sexual fulfillment
- Providing education and counselling around concerns and expectations you may have about sexual health, sexual function, contraception methods and family planning
- Treating infertility and optimizing fertility, including discussing fertility post-hormonal contraception* (The Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic has 2 Fertility Focus Shifts, please call for more information)
Conditions that may be addressed naturopathically
Erectile Dysfunction, High/Low Libido, Pain During Sex, Menstrual Difficulties, Bacterial Vaginosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Vaginal Dryness, Sexual Function Changing with Menopause or Andropause, Depression, Anxiety, Weight Changes, Digestive Disturbances, Fatigue/Lethargy, “Not Feeling Like Yourself”