Leading Women's Health Expert and Author Dr. Lauren Streicher Joins Northwestern Medicine
We sat down with Dr. Streicher to learn about her new role with Northwestern Medicine and why specialized sexual health care and research is important for patients.
Why is there a need for a comprehensive sexual medicine center?
Dr. Lauren Streicher (LS): Forty three percent of women have at least one sexual health problem. After age 50, the numbers are significantly higher, not only due to menopause, but also because the likelihood of having a medical problem that can sabotage sexuality, such as diabetes or heart disease, increases with age.
Relationship challenges and stress also contribute and must be addressed along with physical and medical challenges. Treatment of these complex issues requires a collaboration of gynecologists, urologists, dermatologists, therapists, pelvic floor experts and other subspecialists.
LS: Anyone who has sexual concerns will be treated at the Center. Programs will be inclusive to men and women who are heterosexual, homosexual, transgender or self-sexual.
There will be specific programs for post cancer, heart disease, diabetes, menopause, and neurologic disease to name a few. Treatments may include medication, pelvic floor physical therapy, psychotherapy, treatment of associated conditions and consultations with sub-specialists and referring physicians as appropriate.
What will make this program unique compared to other sexual health programs?
LS: While some sexual health programs exist for specific populations, such as post cancer, the Center for Sexual Health will have programs to include virtually every medical, hormonal or physical challenge that impacts sexual health.
Unlike other programs, all of our care will be conducted in one location – the specialists will come to the patient instead of a patient having to make multiple appointments to see various specialists. Care will be coordinated, comprehensive and patient-centered.
What are some of the biggest issues pertaining to women’s sexual health?
LS: Sexual problems are generally divided into four categories: decreased libido (not feeling desire); impaired arousal (being unable to lubricate and become excited); problems with orgasm (having no orgasm or taking a really long time to climax); and sexual pain or inability to have intercourse. Of course, there is overlap and it is not unusual for someone to experience problems from all categories.
Why is it important to include sexual health in medical training for students and residents?
LS: Typically, medical students attend only one lecture on sexual health during medical school. Unless they train at one of the few medical centers with a sexual dysfunction clinic, there is rarely any formal training in sexual health beyond that one lecture.
Training in a sexual health center will equip students and residents to diagnose, treat and know when to refer the large population of patients who have sexual problems as a result of illness or age.
What type of research will be conducted at the center?
LS: Clinical research as well as new drug and device trials will be conducted at the center including multi-center trials with other academic sexual health centers.
What should patients ask their doctors about sexual health?
LS: Common is not the same as normal and any woman who is frustrated by her lack of libido, inability to become aroused or sexual pain should talk to her doctor. Sexual problems may be a result of medication, a hormonal imbalance or a consequence of a medical condition.
Why is Northwestern Medicine the place you wanted to start this center?
LS: It is impossible to address these complex sexual problems without a collaborative effort. Northwestern Medicine is committed to this center and committed to gathering a team of the country’s leading experts. As a leader in women's health, both in clinical care and research, and with established programs in multiple other aspects of complex gynecology, Northwestern is perfectly positioned to have a world class program as the "go to " resource in this area.
How can patients learn more about the Center and the care you will provide?
LS: Visit Dr. Streicher's office webpage or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Dr. Streicher.