Latest posts by Karlyn Quinn (see all)
- From Birth Control To Libido: Addressing Women’s Sexual Health Concerns - December 13, 2018
It’s been almost 60 years since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first oral contraceptive. “The Pill” would be the first drug whose intention was not to cure a medical disorder; rather, it would serve as a long-term drug for healthy people with social intent, which was both revolutionary yet controversial.
Today, four out of five sexually active women have used the pill, and more than 99 percent have used some form of a contraception method. Undoubtedly, the introduction of birth control has ignited a more profound conversation around reproductive-rights and has expanded opportunities for women to make decisions about their bodies. Providing access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare has revolutionized the market for other women’s sexual health concerns.
Follow this guide to discussing women’s sexual health concerns and promoting sexual satisfaction through advances in reproductive healthcare:
#1 Birth Control Methods
Birth control technology for women has vastly improved since the pill was first introduced. We now have easier access to contraception, as well as an increase in hormonal birth control methods in addition to the pill. Historically, many women across the country have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, may have used birth control inconsistently. Perhaps this is because they have expensive co-pays or a high deductible insurance plan. Fortunately, modern-day technology such as telemedicine has been fundamental in providing an affordable and efficient way for women to access contraception like finding a birth control pill that will work best for them. Additionally, the development of new, alternative birth control options like intrauterine devices (IUDs), vaginal rings, patches, implants, and shots have broadened women’s horizons when it comes to finding the best birth control method that suits their needs.
#2 Emergency Contraceptives
Often referred to as “the morning after pill” or “the day after pill,” emergency contraception is a method of birth control that can prevent pregnancy when used immediately or up to five days after sex. Emergency contraception is not meant to be used for regular birth control but rather as a backup plan for a variety of reasons, like if a woman believes her birth control may have failed or she didn’t use any contraception. Although much like routine birth control, emergency contraception has also overcome much adversity. In fact, it took a decade for the FDA to make Plan B, the first progestin-only method of emergency contraception in the U.S., available over the counter due to concerns about teen health and sexual behavior. Today, Plan B One-Step is available over the counter in pharmacies without a prescription and without age or sale restrictions. “Birth control is central to women’s health and that they must have access to a full range of methods,” according to Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America when discussing the importance of expanding access to emergency contraception to all women of reproductive age. “Previous studies show that emergency contraception is safe for women of all ages and that rates of unprotected sex do not increase when teens have easier access to emergency contraception.”
#3 Sexual Dysfunction Treatment
Many may be surprised to discover that hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), or a loss of interest in sex, is one of the most common sexual complaints in women, affecting nearly one-third of women aged 18 to 59. Unlike men’s main sexual complaint, erectile dysfunction, which has 26 approved drug treatments by the FDA to help them get and maintain an erection. Women, however, have generally felt frustrated by the lack of therapeutic options available to them. Fortunately, in 2015, flibanserin (also known by its brand name Addyi) would be the first treatment of HSDD in premenopausal women approved by the FDA. Although there is still a lull in therapies to treat sexual dysfunction in women, flibanserin address a real problem for many women which will slowly but surely level the playing field when it comes to sexual health.
Family planning, including access to modern contraception, is considered one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century in the eyes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Focusing efforts towards women’s sexual health concerns by providing easier access to more treatment options has enabled women to take control not only of their reproductive destinies but of their lives. As Former U.S. Congressman, Clare Boothe Luce, once famously announced, “Modern woman is at last free as a man is free, to dispose of her own body, to earn her living, to pursue the improvement of her mind, to try a successful career.”
Featured image: Pexels