First Sexual Health Clinic in the Philippines launched

| Written by Padayon UP

November 29, 2021 — The PGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology launched its new unit, the first of its kind in the country, the Division of Sexual Health (DSH) on November 29 to promote wellness and address pathologic conditions on sexual and reproductive health.

Sexual health, as defined by the World Health Organization, refers to a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality and requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships.  It also entails the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. Sexuality  is fundamental to both reproductive and sexual health.

In her brief message during the launch, UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita Padilla stated that the growing  concern on reproductive and sexual health morbidity clearly shows that sexual health across all genders is an important health issue. This has contributed to a rise and worsening in cases of morbidity.

She quoted figures from the United Nations showing that sexual and reproductive health accounts for at least 20 per cent of the burden of global ill health for women of reproductive age, and 14 per cent for men. Worldwide, more than 140 million women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union have an unmet need for family planning.

For his part,  PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi said the new unit signifies that the PGH Dept of Obstetrics and Gynecology offers a complete service. He expressed hope that this initiative will be followed by other institutions to usher in more awareness of gender issues that may affect how patients are treated.

The DSH hopes to break the barriers to health care by providing a safe, welcoming, and culturally appropriate clinical environment where physicians are able to care for all gender categories with compassion and competence. This includes the cisgender women and their partners and the sexual minorities who may avoid seeking health care due to fear of discrimination and disrespect in the clinic setting.

Among the services that will be offered are: information and counseling on the human sexual response on  sexual dysfunction, counseling and support for sexual relationship problems, sexual health education for the adolescent, addressing sexual dysfunction for all age groups, and management of morbidities related to the side effects of patients who underwent gender-affirming treatments.

Also part of the Division’s services are dealing with issues and counselling victims of sexual violence and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation; addressing concerns of the sexual and gender minorities; managing mental health issues related to sexual health; counselling and education on the impact of physical disabilities and chronic illnesses on sexual well-being; and promotion of safe and satisfying sexual experiences.

The services will be rendered through a collaboration of multi-disciplinary and multi sub-specialty services  whose goal is to advocate for the sexual and reproductive well-being of cis-gender women and sexual gender minorities  (lesbians, bisexuals, intersex or persons with ambiguous genitalia, queer) and promote trans health care (transwomen and transmen) of all age groups from adolescents to the post-menopausal period.

The team that will provide the services is led by Dr. Efren Domingo, PGH Ob-Gyne Chair, as Overall Project Chair with the following members: Dr. Sherri Ann Suplido, Chief; Dr. Angela Aguilar, Vice-chief; Dr. Mario Festin, Adviser and Coordinator for Research; Dr. Bernabe Marinduque, Adviser;  Dr. Enrique Gil Oblepias, Co-coordinator for Research; Dr. Lisa Teresa Jabson, Coordinator for Training for Residents and Fellows; Dr. Ma. Angela Bandola, Coordinator for Training for Undergraduate Affairs; and Dr. Ame Lopez, External Expert on Transgender Health.

To contact the Clinic: Dr Sherri Ann L. Suplido (09178841974)

(This article, written by Cynthia M. Villamor, was first published in the UP Manila Website on November 28, 2021)