Sexual dysfunction is a common problem affecting men and women around the world, causing distress and impacting relationships. Generally, a sexual problem is complex in nature and can have biological, psychological, interpersonal, social, and cultural roots.
Treatment for sexual problems often requires addressing both physiological and psychological factors, as well as improving the quality of one’s relationship. The Loyola University Sexual Wellness Program (LU-SWP) is a multidisciplinary approach for treating sexual disorders.
A recent study followed couples before and after attending LU-SWP from 2014 to 2020 to determine how a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treating sexual dysfunction may impact a couple’s sexual function and relationship satisfaction. In total, 85 individuals participated in this study (42 men and 43 women).
The participants were asked to take questionnaires before and after completing the 6-week Sexual Wellness Program, which features a multidisciplinary team of therapists, urologists, and gynecologists. For the program, initial psychological assessments and individual interviews are conducted, followed by sexologic examinations completed by a urologist or gynecologist.
During the 6-week program, participants attended psychoeducational lectures on various topics as well as private couple’s therapy sessions. The couples also received assignments and engaged in sensate focus exercises, aiming to improve their communication, intimacy, and sexual functioning.
For the pre- and posttreatment assessments, the participants were asked to complete the Patient Health Questionnaire–9 (PHQ-9) to assess depressive symptoms, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) to measure relationship satisfaction, the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Sexual Function and Satisfaction Measures Brief Profile (PROMIS) to assess 7 subdomains of sexual function, and the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) to measure erectile functioning for the male participants.
In the end, the participants ranged in age from 25 to 77 years with an average age of 49.82 years. The authors noted some impressive changes between the pre- and posttreatment assessments, with the most substantial improvement in relationship satisfaction.
Furthermore, participants experienced significant enhancements in their sexual well-being. Their PROMIS scores for global satisfaction with sex life, erectile function, and interest in sexual activity all rose significantly compared to their baseline, while scores reflecting vaginal discomfort decreased considerably. Specifically, the overall global satisfaction with sex life score improved by approximately 5.57 points. Additionally, men, on average, reported a notable 4.33-point increase in their IIEF score compared to their initial baseline measurements.
These findings underscore the positive impact of taking a multidisciplinary approach to treating sexual dysfunction on the participants’ overall well-being and sexual health.
For more information on this topic, please read these publications from the ISSM Journals: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual Medicine Reviews, and Sexual Medicine Open Access:
Lynn, M., Iftekhar, N., Adams, W., & Mumby, P. (2023). Multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of sexual dysfunction in couples using a biopsychosocial model. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 20(7), 991-997. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsxmed/qdad059