Clinic seeks to demystify sexual health
Dr. Jeffery Albaugh discusses the new sexual health clinic at Glenbrook Hospital. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
• Albaugh’s book, Reclaiming Sex & Intimacy After Prostrate Cancer (2012), offers 15 chapters on therapies, incontinence, advice for partners of men with erectile dysfunction and sex without erections, among other topics.
• On the Web: www.northshore.org/prostate-cancer/sexual-health-and-rehabilitation/
• To make an appointment with Albaugh, call (847) 657-5730
Updated: November 9, 2012 9:48AM
Working in urology for 17 years, Jeffrey Albaugh recently joined NorthShore University HealthSystem as director of the new clinic for sexual health at Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview.
Albaugh said his strong interest was in treating survivors of prostate cancer for sexual dysfunctions.
“I’m passionate about this problem because when things go wrong with sexual functions, it’s like a taboo subject around the world,” said Albaugh, a clinical nurse specialist with a doctorate in sexual dysfunction from the University of Illinois, Chicago.
He also directed sexual health clinics at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, both in Chicago.
“Even with providers, research shows even though 90 percent said this problem was important to treat, 94 percent were unlikely to discuss sexual issues with patients,” he said, adding up to 80 percent of men experience erectile dysfunction after prostrate cancer treatments, such as surgery, radiation and hormone therapy.
When treating men, their wives or partners at times join Albaugh’s sessions, which he encouraged.
“I like to involve both so I can talk to them. Often, women have difficulties because the men are having sexual issues, too,” he said.
The William D. and Pamela Hutul Ross Sexual Health Clinic is part of the John and Carol Walter Center for Urological Health at Glenbrook Hospital.
Albaugh not only tied post-surgery to sexual dysfunctions, but said lifestyle and medical disease can cause them.
Normal sexual function depends on blood flow, neuron coordination and hormones, he explained, of which obesity, blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can be factors.
“They’re all associated with sexual function. Even breast cancer can make a difference,” said Albaugh, who was the only nurse at Northwestern Memorial to win the “One of Our Finest” for exceptional patient care.
Typically, he treats patients with medications and self-applied devices.
“People with problems came out of the woodwork when Viagra was introduced and Bob Dole (went public) with the advertisements,” he said. “But medications are not the end all for everyone. If they don’t work, there are vacuum devices for men and women that pull blood into the genitals. You can also treat locally with injections. They’re safe and effective.”
Alan, a 71-year-old patient of Albaugh’s, had juvenile diabetes for 40 years and decided to have prostate cancer surgery in 2009.
“The surgery really did me in. On a recommendation, I went to see Jeffrey Albaugh. He was always so positive and thought out of the box,” Alan said.
Albaugh treated Alan for more than two years.
“I have a very caring wife. My psyche was in trouble, not my marriage,” Alan recalled. “I knew I had to do something and explore new avenues. I went to other people, but they couldn’t help me. Albaugh was my last grasp. He’s a very caring man.”
Doctor Charles Brendler is co-diretor of the Walter Center for Urological Health at Glenbrook Hospital.
He initiated the proposal for building the Sexual Health Clinic and worked on its strategic plan.
Similar to Albaugh, Brendler believed patients and doctors were too hesitant when addressing sexual problems.
“And is this changing? No, not dramatically. It’s still a reluctant topic, but I think people will like Jeffrey Albaugh because of his expertise and care for patients,” Brendler said.
“Both are very important in any program.”
Currently, the Walter Center is recruiting a female medical professional to work with Albaugh on sexual dysfunctions.
“This woman will have his same skill sets. There’s still a lot of gender discomfort with a male talking to a female and the reverse about problems. A woman will be here in the next few months,” Brendler said.