I was recently invited to give a talk at a networking organization event, and I was so excited.
But later in the week, the offer was rescinded because a few members of the organization did not think my topic was appropriate for their meeting. The funny thing is, I had just given a talk less than a week ago to another similar networking organization to rave reviews. Although I was saddened by this organization’s decision, I always honor peoples’ choices. I’m still hoping to get the opportunity in the future to speak to at their event.
The rescinding of the invitation made me think about why I do this work. I am always willing to give a presentation to any organization at any time because I am on a mission. My mission is two-fold, to end the emotional pain and isolation associated with sexual dysfunction and to help women embrace their own sexuality. I know this topic can make some people feel uneasy, but I work hard to make my audience feel comfortable and to present the information in a very appropriate manner. My goal is to make sure my message reaches that one person in the audience who is suffering. Each time I give a talk, I picture that one person who needs my help. The one person that has been silently suffering for years but does not know where to go to get the help that she needs. Maybe they have tried to talk to their doctor or a mental health provider, only to be told “these things happen, or you are just getting older and have to accept changes.” My mission is to look that person in the eye and say “You don’t have to suffer in silence and pretend that everything is ok. I am here to help. If not me, then please reach out to another trained sexual coach, counselor or therapist.”
After every presentation, I usually have several people come up to me and tell me what a difference my presentation made for them. Some of them are crying and they thank me for speaking on this difficult subject. Their words and the look in their eyes keep me doing this work. This work is very necessary.
I think back to my medical school training and the week we had on sexual health in my second year. Yes, only five days of training over the course of 4 years! I was lucky enough to attend a pretty progressive medical school and receive that training. Many other medical schools across the country did not provide any training on sexual health and dysfunction at all! Many doctors and mental health providers do not have any idea how to deal with their patients’ sexual dysfunction issues. They don’t know how to address the concerns or where to refer their patients. It is not necessarily their fault. How can a provider address an issue if she has never been trained on that issue? However, providers can establish a referral network for their patients and many do have a referral network.
Even if the provider does have a referral network, often patients do not feel comfortable bringing up the topic with their providers. It can be difficult to start the conversation. It’s difficult to say “I’ve been having pain with sex for years” or “my partner and I have not been sexually intimate for 5 years. what do I do?” or even “how do I deal with my partner’s sexual dysfunction?” This is where I come in. I go to different organizations and give my presentation. I go to the people. I don’t wait for them to show up in my office because I know that some may never find their way to me. I have to go to them. I show up and give my presentation. I tell them that things can be different. I let them know there is a solution and they don’t have to suffer anymore. We can work together to end that pain and suffering.
At first when my clients come to me, there is a lot of fear and embarrassment. They don’t even know how to talk about the problem. They have no idea how to begin to address the issue. I tell them all the same thing, “this will all be ok. It’s uncomfortable now, but it will get better.” Like the big elephant in the room, it is difficult to acknowledge that the sexual dysfunction exists. However, the more you talk about the big elephant, the easier it gets, and the elephant begins to shrink and shrink. Eventually it’s just a small stuffed animal on the floor that my clients can pick up and put in their pocket. The suffering ends.
So, to all the people who are dealing with some type of sexual dysfunction, I dedicate my work to you. I will continue to show up at events and give my presentation so I can say, “I am here to help. Reach out, it will be ok.”
If you are a woman in midlife dealing with sexual dysfunction, let’s talk. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.