As a woman, a physician and member of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, I found the recent New York Times opinion editorial “Nothing is Wrong With Your Sex Drive” infuriating. The author, sex educator Emily Nagoski, believes that low desire is a relationship issue, not a medical issue. While low desire can be a symptom of a broken relationship, more often it is a symptom of hormonal imbalance. One size does not fit all, and promoting the idea that low desire is purely relationship driven does a grave disservice to women.
The International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health issued the following response to the article:
To The Editor:
Re “Nothing Is Wrong With Your Sex Drive” (Opinion, February 27,
The International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health
(ISSWSH), the preeminent international organization dedicated to
women’s sexual health, was greatly disturbed by the inaccuracies and lack
of balance in the Op-Ed Nothing Is Wrong With Your Sex Drive.
Comparing contemporary research on medications for female sexual
dysfunction (FSD) to a doctor’s misguided use of brain electrodes to
“convert” a homosexual is an inflammatory and specious argument.
Recognizing FSD, including hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), as
an important unmet medical need, the FDA held a recent forum on the
topic. Telling a woman with distressing low desire that “nothing is wrong”
when there are validated medical conditions to explain her symptoms is
outdated science. It is demeaning to women to suggest that HSDD can be
fixed simply by counseling or having sex and hoping sexual desire will
appear. As with other conditions where brain and behavior meet, medical
and behavioral interventions play an important role in FSD. The same
treatment path does not work for every woman, and women deserve access
to all options.
Sharon J. Parish, MD
President, International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health
Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD
Chair, Advocacy Committee, International Society for the Study of
Women’s Sexual Health
*This letter is endorsed by the International Society for Sexual Medicine
and the Sexual Medicine Society of North America.