Sexual health is defined by the World Health Organisation as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes”. Sexual health is a human right, and is fundamental for well being. Why is it then, that one links sex and sexual functioning to so many taboos? Why is there always a subtle conspiracy of silence that clouds the world of sexual desires and expressions? Not only does this effect normal attitudes of individuals, it also forces those with sexual dysfunction or sexual problems to rather keep their problems to themselves instead of seeking help. One needs to think more in depth about this and understand that talking about sexual function, and seeking help when one notices sexual issues is important.
History always teaches us a lot. If one tries to dwell into the history of the term ‘Shame’, it was first introduced by Darwin in 1872. According to him, this represented what would be at the primitive level, an instinctive seeking for cover. MacCurdy in 1930 went on to describe ‘Blushing and Shame’ better. According to him prehistoric man sought concealment only for activities that exposed him to danger in a hostile environment. It was a means of self defence. This basically included the activities eating, sleeping, excretion and sexual intercourse. The purpose of this small dip into history was only for us to know, that nothing about discussing sexual function is a taboo. We do not live in a primitive hostile environment anymore. It is obviously to be kept private as it is a very personal activity. But in times of difficulties, either to a person, a partner or a couple, one needs to discuss this with professionals who can provide help. There should be no hesitancy to seek specialist support due to various cultural, social, religious or personal barriers with regards to sex. Doing so only leads to more problems, both physical and psychological which in turn becomes a vicious cycle. This not only affects the individual, but also the partner and in turn the relationship they share. The more time wasted in contemplating over these problems instead of getting professional advise, the more difficult it is for these dysfunctions or problems to show signs of improvement.
As medical professionals it will be unfair to say that we are always helpful. There are times when some medical professionals are uncomfortable talking about sex and related problems. This could either be due to lack of knowledge, lack of confidence, personal taboos due to various reasons, cultural differences or just lack of time. Hence it goes without saying how important it is to have specialised professionals, who deal with treating sexual problems or dysfunctions irrespective of whether this is secondary to a medical or a surgical condition. It also helps the professionals who lack experience in this field, to have a referral person for his/her patients.
There are lots of patients who want and need information about their sexual issues and ways to deal with it. Sadly certain engrained taboos that one has cultivated over time, prevents them from doing so. We urge patients and individuals to shun away this mind-set and let professionals help you. Sexual dysfunctions can be improved if not entirely reversed with early treatments/therapy or advise. All it takes is the understanding of this important human right, and discussing these problems. It is also most important to start talking to your partner. He/she struggles as much as the person affected, because the relationship and the bond is affected. There are simple ways of making your sexual life a fun, pleasurable and satisfying experience again. Going to seek advise along with your partner or for your partner are also good ways of trying to help resolve the situation.
Every individual is different. Hence despite common medical treatment for certain conditions, there can various different therapies or techniques that can be used to help patients with sexual dysfunction. It is hence important to see a healthcare professional at the earliest if you sense a sexual problem. This may sometimes need time and patience, for results to become apparent depending on the onset of symptoms. But having faith in your therapist or doctor is equally important, as is not giving up hope. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Man lives to love, and loves to live.