Multiple studies at this point have demonstrated the effectiveness of collaborative care in treating complex sexual issues such as female sexual/pelvic pain (Reissing, Binik, Khalif, Cohen & Amsel, 2003; Brotto, Young, Smith & Sadownik, 2015; Bergeron, Corsini-Munt, Aerts, Rancourt, & Rosen, 2015; Meena, 2009). There are many factors that cause and/or magnify sexual/pelvic pain from the physical (dermatological factors, the muscular component, autoimmune factors) to the mental (anxiety, depression, PTSD). These factors are best addressed by a group of health care professionals who are in communication with one another. I encourage women who are seeking treatment for sexual/pelvic pain to create a treatment team.
The primary members of women’s treatment team might include a: 1) OB/GYN who specifically treats female sexual/pelvic pain, 2) Urogynecologist, 3) Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, and 4) a Therapist or Counselor who specializes in sexual/pelvic pain. Additional team members who can provide needed support include a: 1) Primary Care Physician, 2) Psychiatrist, 3) Acupuncturist, 4) Register Dietitian, 5) Massage Therapist, 6) Reiki or Qigong Provider, 7) Herbal Medicine Specialist or 8) A Religious or Spiritual Advisor.
For women struggling with where to find health care providers who specialize in treating women with sexual/pelvic pain, I recommend checking out the following organizations which have directories for professionals who are part of their organizations: 1) International Society for Pelvic Pain (ISPP), 2) International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), 3) American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), 4) Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute, 5) The Interstitial Cystitis Association, 5) Endometriosis Foundation of America, and the 6) National Vulvodynia Association.
Navigating the treatment of sexual/pelvic pain can be overwhelming and stressful. A treatment team who is in communication about your care will help to make the treatment process more manageable, as well as more effective.