By Michael L. Krychman, MDCMMedical Director The Sexual Medicine Center, Executive Director Southern California Center of Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine Newport Beach, CA, Faculty Member University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA.
As a health care professional I see that many women are now becoming more active in their own sexual satisfaction and discussing issues of sexual health concerns; however, it is remarkably amazing how different the media sees the difference between male and female sexuality. It is not uncommon to pick up a lay magazine or watch a prime time television show and see an advertisement for a male erectile medication. The media has essentially embraced male erectile dysfunction and even use the word erection. But when was the last time we saw an ad about vaginal dryness or female sexual pain or a woman’s loss of sexual interest?
We as a society remain shy about women’s sexuality in general, and to utter the correct anatomy out loud seams almost heresy. We are not accustomed to discuss female sexuality or sexual satisfaction in public. Are we still in the puritanical era? As female sexual medicine and women suffering from female sexual dysfunction recover from the medical setbacks from Boehringer Ingelheim’s dilemmas with flibanserin (in development for female hypoactive sexual desire disorder), Proctor & Gamble’s failure with the testosterone patch Intrinsa, and Biosante’s LibiGel efficacy data setback, I begin to wonder if women will ever gain equal partnership on the sexual pharmacological playing field.
Thankfully, we now can see some tasteful advertising of Premarin Vaginal Cream (Pfizer), which is FDA approved for the treatment of moderate to severe painful intercourse, as well as vulvovaginal atrophy advertisements in lay magazines, ie, the wilting flowers depicting dryness. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go regarding sexual equality in the media representation. Not too long ago, we were fully aware of the concerns that Semprea Labs had in getting prime time airtime to discuss female sexual satisfaction as part of their ad campaign for Zestra.
I think the time is now that we as health care providers must refocus and reeducate young and older women alike. As a sexual medicine specialist, who is both a gynecologist and a sexual counselor, I am advocating that both men and women have sexual self-awareness. We must continue to break down media barriers and allow women to be expressive when it comes to sexual enjoyment and pleasure. Should there be ads on television during “prime time” about women’s sexual health like there are for men? I think so.