On September 4, the World Association for Sexual Health recognized World Sexual Health Day. That day, and throughout the month of September, people around the world acknowledge the importance of sexual health for all.
Access to sexual and reproductive health services varies greatly among women in Canada. Women who are Black, Indigenous or of colour may experience additional barriers when it comes to receiving adequate care.
Good news is that across the country, researchers associated with members of Women’s Health Collective Canada are working to advance our knowledge of women’s health through cutting edge research, and improving care by turning information into action.
Here we are spotlighting a few of the many researchers working to advance women’s sexual and reproductive health in Canada, and the important work they are doing.
Dr. Wendy Norman, MD, CCFP, FCFP, DTM&H, MHSc, is a Professor in the Department of Family Practice, and an Associate Member in the School of Population and Public Health, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. Dr. Norman founded and leads Canada’s Contraception and Abortion Research Team (CART).
CART conducts research on health policy and services with the goal of enabling equitable access for populations across Canada to the information and care they need to plan pregnancies according to their own reproductive goals. CART research has informed federal, and provincial policies on contraception and abortion services, professional licensing policies, and clinical guidelines.
Dr. Norman’s latest research documents characteristics of the abortion care workforce in Canada after the update of clinical practice guidelines of mifepristone use for medical abortion.
Dr. Carmen Charlton, PhD, FCCM, D(ABMM), a Clinical Microbiologist at the Alberta Public Health Laboratory and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology at the University of Alberta, is part of a team that is working to better understand the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from pregnant people to their babies, and to improve the prenatal care they receive. This research has the potential to reduce infant transmission rates and improve health outcomes and overall care for mothers.
Dr. Lori Brotto, PHD, R PSYCH, is a professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and a registered psychologist. She is the executive director of the Women’s Health Research Institute of BC located at BC Women’s Hospital. Dr. Brotto is also the director of the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory where research primarily focuses on developing and testing psychological and mindfulness-based interventions for women with sexual desire and arousal difficulties and women with chronic genital pain.
Dr. Brotto’s latest research and forthcoming book, explores how mindfulness interventions can help women with sexual interest / arousal disorders. Difficulties with sexual desire affect up to a third of women, and most do not get the care they need, due to stigma, embarrassment, and limited availability of treatment. Dr. Brotto’s work not only helps raise awareness of these issues, but gives women and clinicians the knowledge to treat them.