When “Not Tonight” is Every Night There is Help
ARTICLE BY: Dr. Katherine Williams, MD, FACOG, IF and Becky Rolland
Photos by Bach Imagery, LLC
Photo Below Left to Right:
Aimee Schwartz, RN &
Dr. Katherine Williams, MD, FACOG, IF
When should a frequent ‘not-in-the-mood’ become a concern? Are you fatigued, or could there be something else going on? If ‘not tonight’ is every night, it might be time to seek medical attention.
A large percentage of adult women are plagued with a low sex drive (having a low libido or loss of interest in sex), from their pre-childbearing to the post-menopausal years. Although losing some interest in sex can be part of the normal ebb and flow of life, when a low sex drive starts to negatively affect a relationship, a woman should find out why.
According to a 2008 study in the Obstetrics & Gynecology Journal, only 20% of women with sexual problems will seek medical help. Many women are too embarrassed or hesitant to talk to their doctor or healthcare provider about sexual problems because they think they won’t be taken seriously or that there isn’t anything that can be done to help.
Understanding Female Sexual Dysfunctions
There are four main types of sexual dysfunction that can have an impact on a woman’s sex drive:
• Decreased sexual desire is low libido, reduced sexual interest, lack of a craving for sexual sensations, or a struggle with ‘getting in the mood.
• Diminished sexual arousal is a decreased physical, emotional, or mental reaction to sexual stimulation during foreplay or sex even if the initial desire for sex is present.
• Orgasmic problems are the inability for a woman to reach orgasm or the recent inability for a woman who previously achieved orgasm to reach climax of the sexual response.
• Finally, Dyspareunia is pain during sex that can be due to gynecological, emotional and physical abnormalities. Sex should never be painful. Any pain during sex should receive immediate medical attention by a specialist.
Decreased sexual desire, the most common of the four, primarily affects women in their 40s, although it can affect women of all ages. It is natural, as women age, for them to experience a decrease in sexual desire, but if there is dissatisfaction, there is help available.
What causes low sex drive in women?
A women’s sexual desire is far more complicated than a man’s libido. A man can take a little blue pill to remedy his most common sexual complaint and be ready to go, however, the female sex drive is far more complex. There is a range of psychological and physiological factors that may negatively impact a woman’s libido:
• Psychological (mental or emotional) triggers can be job stress, relationship problems, depression or anxiety, negative body image, past sexual trauma, an unwillingness to be sexual, or sociocultural influences like media images or peer pressure.
• Physical impairments can include hormone imbalances such as low testosterone, age, menstrual cycle, menopause, demands of a caregiver or mother, or post-partum pregnancy changes.
• Medical conditions that affect libido include anemia, chemotherapy, depression, anxiety, prolactin tumors, fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid disease, and even some vitamin deficiencies.
• Medications that can decrease sex drive include antidepressants, anxiety medicine, narcotics, some blood pressure drugs, or even some birth control pills.
Proper Diagnosis and Treatment
If someone needs help with a low libido, low sex drive, pain with sex, or other sexual dysfunction, encourage them to consult with a medical doctor who specializes in women’s sexual health. Before the physiological component of a low libido can properly be diagnosed, it is critical that the doctor takes the time to thoroughly evaluate the psychological and physiological components of the patient’s life. Only then can the condition be effectively treated. There is no longer any reason to suffer in silence.
Sources include “Sexual Problems and Distress in United States Women: Prevale… : Obstetrics & Gynecology.” LWW. Obstetrics & Gynecology Journal, Nov. 2008. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
A visit to the Southern Institute for Women’s Sexual Health (SIWSH), will take longer than a normal gynecologist appointment and that is by design. Dr. Katherine Williams, an expert at diagnosing and treating vulvar and pelvic discomfort, created SIWSH to help women who may have been suffering silently for years. “Patients who suffer from pelvic and vulvar pain or dysfunction need additional time, attention, and tests to determine the best course of treatment,” Dr. Williams explained. “We first need a comprehensive history and evaluation before we can fully understand our patients. This cannot be done in a simple office visit. We take our time with each patient so that we can help women achieve the intimacy they deserve.”
Offering two locations, Covington and New Orleans, SIWSH provides women of all ages with a comprehensive diagnosis and effective treatment of pelvic and vulvar pain. “Complaints regarding sexual function are one of the most common concerns heard by gynecologists, however they are often the last thing mentioned by patients. We wanted to create a space where patients feel comfortable discussing their problems and help empower them to achieve pain-free intimacy”, Dr. Williams added.
With over 20 years of experience treating women of all ages, Dr. Williams knows the best way to treat her patients is to understand them first. Before she physically examines her patients to make a preliminary diagnosis, she allows her patients to tell their story and verbalize their problems. Prior to their next visit, each patient is asked to complete a 140-part questionnaire.
An expert in accurately diagnosing and effectively treating sexual pain disorders, disorders of the skin around the vulva, and sexual side effects experienced after chemotherapy, menopause, childbirth and contraceptives, Dr. Williams will always meet with patients first. After the initial consult, Dr. Williams works with hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Jay Saux III, Kelly Brewster, WHNP, and Michelle Sierra, to treat women with chronic pain who have lost hope. “One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is to help patients to feel alive again, to regain the intimacy they deserve, and to restore their quality of life,” Dr. Williams said.
For over 20 years Dr. Katherine Williams has been an empowering advocate for women and their health in her field of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Born in Baton Rouge and raised in New Orleans, she earned her Bachelor’s in psychology from the University in New Orleans and her medical doctorate from LSU Medical School in New Orleans. Following Dr. Williams’ residency at Charity Hospital in Obstetrics and Gynecology, she attended a fellowship with the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) in New York.
A pillar of her local community, she has been involved with the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Board of Commissioners and served as the Chairman of the Louisiana Medical Disclosure Panel. In 2011, she became the first female chief of staff at St. Tammany Parish Hospital and continues to be trained in the latest technology and devices that benefit her patients. It is Dr. Williams’ work with breast cancer survivors and sexual abuse victims that motivated her to seek more education in sexual health to best help these patients that are often plagued with sexual dysfunction and more importantly, deserve to live life to the fullest.
Board-certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, she is the founder of the Southern Institute for Women’s Sexual Health and the Center for Women’s Health, a gynecological practice with a focus on women’s sexual health. In 2009, Dr. Williams became a da Vinci certified Robotic Surgeon and now trains other doctors. In 2014, she joined the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), to further her knowledge of vulvovaginal disorders and sexual pain and in 2015, she became a fellow of this organization.
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