Family & Sexual Health Clinics Getting Ready

People seeking the services will not feel socially excluded or isolated knowing that there are others with similar problems
Establishment of the clinics can go a long way in encouraging more people to seek treatment. Establishment of the clinics can go a long way in encouraging more people to seek treatment.

Reports say almost 80% of the infrastructure for ‘Family and Sexual Health Clinics’ across the provinces is complete and the Health Ministry is in the process of employing qualified people to run the clinics, mostly  from universities of medical sciences.

Dr. Mohammad Eslami, technical deputy of the ministry’s Family, Population, and School Health said the centers will have specialists namely gynecologists, urologists, endocrinologists, dermapathologists, infectious diseases experts, internal medicine specialists, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Clerics and legal experts would also be available.

The clinics will “remove confusion on pertinent reproductive health (RH) issues” such as sexual incompatibility as well as sexual dysfunction and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), with all the services available in one place.

“A comprehensive treatment protocol for the centers is being worked out,” Eslami said, ISNA reported.

The new holistic clinics are expected to open their doors in the new fiscal year that starts March 21.

Currently, there are some clinics in the area of family and RH; however each has a separate treatment protocol. An example is the private Avicenna Infertility Center in Tehran that offers a variety of treatment in STDs and sexual dysfunction.

Although the center has a psychological counseling center, the services mostly pertain to women with fertility problems and those suffering RPL (recurrent pregnancy loss), and counseling is not offered to people suffering from sexual dysfunction or STDs, who receive only medical treatment for their condition.

But at the new clinics, the specialists in different fields will work together and offer a full range of services to patients, who may need a combination of therapies like psychiatric counseling along with medical treatment for their sexual health problems which often cause high emotional and mental distress.

For instance, the affected person may need to take anti-anxiety or antidepressant pills to be able to undergo the distressful medical treatment for STDs. Or someone who has suffered sexual harassment may need a full checkup for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as psychological treatment to deal with post-traumatic stress, and a lawyer’s services to file a complaint against the violator, Eslami said.

Establishment of the clinics can go a long way in encouraging more people to seek treatment.

“People seeking the services will not feel socially excluded or isolated knowing that there are others with similar problems.” The clinics will help create confidence among the target group when they see there are others also in a similar plight.

  No Reliable Statistics

There are no reliable statistics on sexual health issues which partly arise from emotional divorce (the phase in a relationship where, although far from physical separation or may not even be rowing, a couple is emotionally disentangling) and also from sexual incompatibility.

Furthermore, sexual incompatibility has been mentioned as one of the main reasons for divorce in Iran and a study published in 2014 said nearly 41.4% of divorced women and 74% of divorced men were dissatisfied with their marital life. It has been postulated that counseling can help increase marital satisfaction.

At last year’s conference on family and sexual health, Eslami had pointed to sexual dysfunction as one of the main causes for the rising divorce rate and that 57 sexual health clinics had been planned in the provinces.

Lack of counseling and treatment centers had driven couples to seek help from non-professionals, and untreated sexual problems could lead to HIV, drug addiction, divorce and other social malaise, he had warned.

Sexual health is one component of reproductive health that has great impact on the health of an individual and society. A study conducted by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences from June 2009 to November 2013 in Tehran said sexual health has a special definition in each age group along with different requirements.

To start a healthy sexual relationship, at first a correct relationship between a couple must shape; a relationship that is based on acceptable norms, convention, customs and social values.

Other studies reveal that the main socio-cultural challenges to sexual health education for adolescents in Iran are affected by misconceptions.

The social concern about the negative impacts of sexual education (in schools and universities), perceived stigma and embarrassment, reluctance to discuss sexual issues in public, lack of advocacy and legal support, intergenerational gap, and imitating non-Islamic patterns of education, are some of the main challenges, said researchers.

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