What happens at the intersection of hormones, mental health, and sexuality?
“You’re supposed to enjoy sex, and if you aren’t, why not?”
Dr. Lucy Puryear is an Associate Professor in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. She is also Co-Director of The Menopause Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women.
Dr. Lucy works with patients to treat psychiatric conditions during pregnancy and postpartum, perimenopause, infertility and reproductive loss. Because our hormones can have profound impacts on women's physical and emotional health, we invited Dr. Lucy to share her expertise with gennevers.
"Woman's advocate" Dr Lucy explains the services she provides for women, specifically women with mood/anxiety/emotional issues tied to reproductive events and hormonal changes.
Women’s hormonal health—and particularly how it relates to their psychological health—wasn’t given much attention in the US until the early 90s. Dr. Lucy explains how her own experience helped her discover her passion. As a young woman seeking relief from PMS symptoms, she says, "I remember feeling very patronized" by male physicians. "That was probably a pivotal moment in my life.”
Why are women’s issues still so taboo? According to Dr. Lucy, the answer is threefold: hear how cultural stigmas against women generally, mental health, and female sexuality all combine to make women’s hormonal health one of our biggest and most resistant taboos.
How are women’s sex lives and libidos affected by their hormonal changes? Even physicians will shy away from talking with women about their sexuality, says Dr. Lucy. “Women just don’t get asked.” Hear why she makes it a point to ask her patients, why it’s so critical to have these open and frank conversations, and how she’s helped women and couples get their sex lives back.
“Sex is going to happen every Saturday at 2 when the kids are in bed.” So much of what women suffer through during hormonal change is truly “normal,” says Dr. Lucy, so there’s no reason to feel shame or fear. Once women understand vaginal dryness or drop in libido are natural and common, they can drop the shame and focus on the fix. Hear Dr. Lucy’s strategies (like planning sex or “hotel” sex) for bringing intimacy back into relationships.
Including partners in the conversation. Because coupling usually requires, well, a couple (at least!), Dr. Lucy does sometimes talk to her patients’ partners. She explains how bringing in intimate partners often results in better solutions.
Is there a generational difference in how we talk about sexuality? Are younger women more open to the conversation? Hear Dr. Lucy’s thoughts on the differences—and similarities—among generations of women.
Was it good for you? Are women demanding (and getting) great sex? Or are we there out of obligation and to preserve a relationship? Dr. Lucy shares her thoughts on women, sex, and expectations of pleasure. “You’re supposed to enjoy it, and if you don’t, why not?” says Dr. Lucy. “There are things you can do to make that better.”
What are the biggest obstacles in her work with women? Stigma. Mental health issues are still seen as a weakness and our cultural discomfort stops women from getting help. Hear how lack of trained medical professionals and adequate health care coverage are making it even harder to find relief.
What do women need to know? What’s out there, what’s coming up? Hear Dr. Lucy’s thoughts about a female Viagra, genital plastic surgery, and why we need to be careful that women’s health advances are truly “advances.”
What’s one final piece of advice you’d give to our women listeners? Hear from Dr. Lucy what she wants women to understand about their health, what she wants women to expect from their healthcare professionals, and how they can empower themselves to feel their best.