Long Beach Clinic Opens for Treatment of Sexual Problems

Times Staff Writer

A group of physicians associated with Memorial Medical Center of Long Beach has opened a clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in men and women.

Although many area clinics treat male sexual dysfunction, centers equipped to diagnose and treat sexual problems of women are rare, said Dr. Allan Shanberg, director of the Memorial Center for Sexual Function, which opened Monday.

"Roles are changing," said Shanberg, a staff urologist at the medical center. Although traditionally little study has been made by medical professionals of women's sexual problems, evolving values in society are beginning to change that, he said.

"There's a real need for it," said Dr. Harold Kudish, director of the California Sexual Functions Center, a clinic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles that treats only male sexual dysfunction.

Like Kudish's center, the new Long Beach facility--which is across the street from Memorial Medical Center on Atlantic Avenue--uses a multidisciplinary approach in treating sexual dysfunction. Present at a press conference this week to announce the center's opening were two urologists, a gynecologist, an endocrinologist and a psychologist. Besides being on the staff of the medical center, Shanberg said, all are on the faculty at the University of California, Irvine.

"We've tried to cover all the possible bases," he said. "We're not approaching the problem from our own narrow specialties, but dealing with our patients' total problem."

At the clinic, he said, each patient will be given a thorough psychological and medical screening to isolate the cause of the sexual dysfunction.

Among men, he said, the major complaint is chronic impotence, a condition from which an estimated 10 million Americans suffer. Of those, he said, about half are believed to have physical ailments--such as diabetes, hormonal imbalance or nerve, muscle or circulatory problems--that are the cause of the condition.

For women the situation is less clear-cut. Though women suffer from a variety of complaints ranging from the inability to achieve orgasm to painful intercourse, Shanberg said, little is known about female sexual dysfunction.

"We're hoping to generate some research" on the subject, he said. "We expect to see people from all over Southern California."

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