Dr. Brotto shares how a medical disease can impact a woman's sexual dysfunction.
We know that there is direct effects of a medical disease. If a woman has, for example, a cancer right on her genitals, it can make intercourse painful, if not completely impossible.
We know there’s indirect effects of a medical disease, so for example fatigue or changes in her sense of self or feeling depressed as a result of having the medical condition. We know that many of the treatments that we use to help women with medical diseases can directly interfere with her ability to have a sexually functioning life.
Things, for example, such as the surgeries that we use to treat cancers, for example, radiation, chemotherapy, again the medications that are directly involved to treat these diseases can have a side effect. Now all of those factors are taking place on a medical or biological level, but another equally important, if not perhaps more important factor is the woman herself.
The impact of the disease through psychological mechanisms. Is there a change in how she sees herself as a sexual woman, can she no longer look in the mirror and see the sexiness in her, is there a change in her level of mood etc. So there’s many different ways by which medical illness impacts her sexuality.
About Dr. Brotto, Ph.D., R. Psych.:
Dr. Lori Brotto is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of British Columbia and a Registered Psychologist with the BC College of Psychologists. She conducts research on women’s sexual health and difficulties, develops and test psycho-educational interventions for women with sexual desire and arousal complaints, and studies additional sexual health topics including, culture and sexuality, hormones and sexual desire, cancer and sexuality, HPV and sexuality, and asexuality. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia and trained at the University of Washington, completing a one-year internship in the Department of Psychiatry, and two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Reproductive and Sexual Medicine.
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