Whether you’re single or in a relationship, it’s important to celebrate September as Sexual Health Month by taking care of yourself. With over 15 years of medical experience, Dr. Melissa (Mel) Irvine, DNP, has channeled her experience and knowledge to help singles and couples understand the importance of sexual wellness and how it affects their overall health, relationships, and quality of life.
“With a focus on ‘Love, Bonding and Intimacy’ for 2021, it’s important we acknowledge that it starts within ourselves,” says Dr. Mel. “How are you ever going to have a successful relationship if you don’t love and understand yourself, let alone how to please yourself?”
Many of the patients Dr. Mel sees are managing physical, mental and emotional aspects of what often turns out to be hormonal imbalance or lack of sexual education and knowledge that presents in their everyday lives as marital issues, lack of intimacy, and shame.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms to look out for are fatigue, decreased energy and libido, irritability, anxiety, depression, frequent bladder infections, hair loss, sleep disturbances, orgasm changes, erection changes, vaginal changes, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, memory issues, difficulty concentrating, brain fog, and hot flashes.
“There’s a lot of anxiety for women who are in this position because they feel like something’s wrong with them,” explains Dr. Mel. “And actually, the challenges they’re facing are often simpler than they think, and we work together to get them resolved.”
Dr. Mel sees patients of all genders but feels it’s especially important for women to understand their bodies and address their sexual health. “Changes occur way before menopause and once in menopause they continue to worsen. This is every woman’s reality no matter their age. Without even realizing it, women fall into this lack of desire because we’re given excuses as to why we feel that way: you’re busy, you have kids, you have a husband and a career,” Dr. Mel explains. “I can tell when a woman’s been deficient as soon as I do a pelvic exam. Changes in a woman’s anatomy happen over a long period of time. This is so important, and not just for sexually active women, because as women age and their immune systems change, there are risks for infections that are very serious.”
In addition to physical changes, Dr. Mel says hormonal fluctuations result in depression and anxiety for many. “So often the answer is giving an anti-depressant. And what it’s going to do is it’s going to numb you,” says Dr. Mel. “Every year so many people are put on these antidepressants, and nobody even bothered to check their hormones.”
Hormone levels begin to decrease for both men and women as a natural part of the aging process. Dr. Mel focuses on balancing three essential reproductive hormones: Estradiol, Progesterone, and Testosterone, for both men and women to optimize overall health and quality of life. However, she believes there’s a huge discrepancy in care between men and women, in that hormone therapies are considered high risk in women.
“There are few providers willing to do it, but I hear from so many women, as soon as they get on hormones, their marriages were saved, or that they just now feel so good and didn’t even realize how miserable they were. It’s not just about love, bonding and intimacy with a partner. it’s for your life in general. For your own health and wellbeing.”
Dr. Mel sees patients through Revitalize Health Clinic and Spa, 14320 Metropolis Ave, in Fort Myers. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please visit revitalizelounge.com, or call 239-351-5663. She will also speak at eXXXotica, the country’s largest and longest running adult consumer and educational event, held from September 17-19, at the Miami Airport Convention Center.