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Lessons from the ISSWSH/ISSM Conference 2019

It’s hard to believe that exactly one year ago, I went solo to the ISSWSH conference (International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health) with an Ohnut prototype that I made in my apartment, and a list of leaders I was instructed to learn from.

Fast forward to early March 2019, and a few members of the Ohnut team and I set sail for the combined ISSWSH + International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) meeting in Atlanta, GA — this time with manufactured Ohnuts in hand and list of leaders and friends (now a much longer list!) who we were beyond eager to reunite with.

Image of the members of the Ohnut team who attended the ISSWSH/IPPS conference in 2019.

(Not pictured: early-morning wakeup calls, the incessant tidying of the table set-up, and small labels near the Ohnut demos that say “Reach out” and “Touch me.”)

Emily Sauer and Irwin Goldstein wearing matching "Pain is Not a Weakness" hats.

#PainIsNotAWeakness! Sexual medicine trailblazer, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, and me, proudly wearing Ohnut’s Endometriosis Awareness Month hats.

Emily Sauer and Sheryl Kingsberg posing for a photo at the ISSWSH/ISSM conference.

Happy to see Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD again! Dr. Kingsberg is an expert in menopause and female sexual disorders, and a long-standing friend of Ohnut.

Tarfah Muammar, Emily Sauer, and Rawan Gari posing for a photo at the ISSWSH/ISSM conference.

Incredibly excited and thankful to have met these ladies! On the left is the hilarious Dr. Tarfah Muammar—Saudi-based OB/GYN and sexual health researcher. And on the right is Dr. Rawan Gari—Saudi Arabia’s first Sex Therapist! Dr. Gari is trained as an OB/GYN, and received training in sexual medicine and vulvar pain.

Meanwhile in the Exhibit Hall, we visited with old friends: Soul Source, VuVatech, and Milli (our favorite vaginal dilator people) & Uberlube and Good Clean Love (the lubes we love)… and new friends: Luxurity (the newest oral sex panties to hit the market), Desert Harvest (aloe-based lubes and skin products made with people with vulvodynia and interstitial cystistis in mind), and IC Relief (the makers of beautiful glass massage wands)!

We also did our fair share of learning. This year’s ISSWSH meeting theme was “It Takes 2 to Tango.”

via GIPHY

While most years focus solely on women’s* sexual health, this year there was a refreshing and much-needed spotlight on the role of the couple in sexual desire, aging, cancer, and painful sex. Part of this greater inclusivity of the partner is because ISSWSH and ISSM teamed up, expanding the kinds of practitioners and researchers that attended and presented. It was also a year of revisiting and revising old science—like when and what kinds of hormone treatments are safe to use post-menopause and post-cancer.

Sneak peek into the conference below!

One of Dr. Sharon Bober's slides from the conference.

Sharon Bober, PhD, cancer specialist extraordinaire, gave a talk on sexual health in the era of genetic testing for cancer. She discussed the preemptive measures patients and doctors are taking to prevent cancers—think Angelina Jolie’s double-mastectomy in response to her positive BRCA test (the BRCA1 and 2 genes have been linked to a greater risk of developing certain cancers—specifically, breast cancer)—and the sexual health implications of those procedures. While double-mastectomies and removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes can be important and life-saving measures, painful sex and sexual dissatisfaction are common (and often unexpected to the patient) outcomes that need to be discussed before and after surgery.

Amy Stein, DPT, founder of Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, also spoke about the sexual side-effects of cancers—mentioning the following treatment options for painful sex (including Ohnut—thanks, Amy!).

It was an honor to attend and to connect with a community of passionate practitioners who are so willing to learn, engage, and support sexual health. So, thank you for your dedication, your open minds, and your willingness to be playful. We couldn’t do it without you. :)

We hope to see you (and your vadges of honor) next year!

A collage of pictures of people (including practitioners) proudly wearing their vadges of honor.


If you have questions or ideas about something you’d like to hear more about, or even a story you’d like to share — let us know.


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