The Vital Role of Sexual Health Physicians

Atrium Health Womenโ€™s Care Sexual Health Navigates Intimacy Issues with Care & Expertise

By Sarah Pryor for Atrium Health ~ Women's Care June 17, 2024

Despite the stigma, sexual discomfort and dysfunction in women is not that uncommon. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, 17-55% of women over the age of 18 suffer from pain, irritation, discomfort or dysfunction during sex. And, while these issues persist, the number of providers specializing in sexual health are few and far between. 

Lucky for all of us in Charlotte, there is Atrium Health Women’s Care Sexual Health. Led by Dr. Sasha Davenport, the practice is passionate about the impact sexual health has on the whole woman, finding the root cause and - when possible - correcting these issues.

Davenport, along with her team Rachel Murray, WHNP-BC, and Erika Warren, DPT (a pelvic floor specialist), offer a safe and nonjudgmental space for patients to discuss their concerns, preferences, and goals regarding sexual health. Through thorough evaluation and assessment, the sexual health team can diagnose underlying medical or psychological factors contributing to sexual dysfunction or dissatisfaction.

“The reason this practice exists is because we wanted patients to be treated in a safe environment that uses evidence-based medicine,” Davenport shared. “There are far and few sexual medicine clinics across the country and our team all shares a passion for this type of medicine - so much so that Rachel, our WHNP-BC, moved across the country to join us.”

Located in SouthPark, the practice was established to assist women over the age of 18 as they navigate all sexual life transitions including, but not limited to: 

  • Decreases in desire
  • Problems with arousal
  • Changes or problems with orgasm
  • Changes that occur due to menopause and postpartum
  • Pelvic floor issues 
  • Changes/issues during cancer treatments 

According to Davenport, one of the largest roadblocks when it comes to addressing sexual health is misconceptions. We broke down a few of the most common with them:

Misconception 1: Sexual Health is Only About Reproduction
One prevalent misconception is that sexual health solely revolves around reproduction. While reproduction is a significant aspect, sexual health encompasses far more. It includes physical, mental, and emotional well-being concerning sexuality throughout life. This involves understanding and embracing one's body, fostering healthy relationships, practicing safe sex, and seeking appropriate healthcare when needed.

Misconception 2: Women Lose Interest in Sex After Menopause
Menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive years and is often accompanied by hormonal changes. While these changes can impact sexual desire and function, they don't signify the end of sexual pleasure or intimacy. Many women find that their sexual desires evolve with age and experience. Open communication with partners, exploring new forms of intimacy, and seeking medical advice can help navigate any challenges related to sexual health during menopause.

Misconception 3: Sexual Health Issues Are a Sign of Weakness
Some women may feel ashamed or embarrassed to address sexual health concerns, viewing them as a sign of weakness. However, experiencing sexual health issues is incredibly common and does not reflect personal shortcomings. Whether it's low libido, pain during intercourse, or difficulty reaching orgasm, seeking help from healthcare professionals, counselors, or support groups can lead to solutions and improvements in sexual well-being.

You can catch an entire podcast episode on these misconceptions HERE!

Once these roadblocks are cleared, the team can really focus on the treatment. New patient visits with Atrium Health Women’s Care Sexual Health include a full, comprehensive workup. In addition to the typical workups, they want to hear the whole story - because all of it is interrelated.

“We have the luxury of being able to take our time,” Davenport emphasized. We can put our patients at ease first and foremost because then we can really get into the details of their needs, desires and - ultimately - treatment.”

As mothers, we juggle countless responsibilities, but amidst it all, our sexual health deserves attention and care. By embracing open communication, seeking accurate information, and prioritizing our own sexual well-being, we can cultivate a healthy and fulfilling sexual life. All women are worthy of pleasure, intimacy, and sexual well-being, and by investing in our sexual health, we’re investing in our overall happiness and fulfillment as women and mothers.

To learn more, visit Atrium Health Women's Care Sexual Health. To schedule an appointment, call 704-304-1176, virtual consults are available and referrals are not required to schedule. 

Atrium Health Women’s Care Sexual Health is located at 4525 Cameron Valley Parkway, Suite 2700, Charlotte, NC 28211.

About Dr. Davenport
Dr. Sasha Davenport, FACOG, IF is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and the Director of Female Sexual Medicine at Atrium Health, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She is a fierce advocate for women’s health. She is dedicated to increasing education surrounding sexual wellness and problems for women as well as providing accessible treatments and practical tools that women can integrate into their daily lives. In her free time Dr. Davenport enjoys traveling, playing the piano, spending time with her family, and trying delicious new food spots in Charlotte. 

About Rachel Murray, NP
Rachel Murray, WHNP-BC is a nurse practitioner at Atrium Health Women's Health Sexual Health. She has focused her medical practice on treating women for sexual health and menopausal concerns. Her mission is to create a safe, open space for women to discuss these issues without stigma or fear. In her free time, Rachel enjoys playing outside with her kids, running, and finding new ways to explore the world. 

Erika Warren, PT, DPT, CDNT
Erika Warren, PT, DPT, CDNT is a pelvic health physical therapist at Atrium Health Women's Care Sexual Health. She treats a variety of pelvic floor conditions including, pelvic pain, pelvic muscle weakness, and birth prep/recovery. She is passionate about helping women feel confident doing any activity they want to do. In her free time, Erika enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her husband and their dog.