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"Experiencing and understanding the IPM training, transformed my working life. It helped me grow as a general practitioner, not just as a psychosexual doctor".
I had been a general practitioner (GP) in Jersey for nearly 20 years when the Internet and PDE5 inhibitors, among other things, changed patients’ knowledge, awareness and expectations of sexual problems. The ‘Swinging Sixties’ and the availability of the Pill probably started it all, but more and more patients started attending the practice with ‘door-handle' questions about sex. As an experienced GP, I’d previously found there weren’t many problems with which I felt unable to help. If I didn’t have the answer then I had an excellent network of specialist colleagues who could provide assistance, either via telephone advice or formal referral. Help with sexual problems, however, drew a blank, as there was no-one running a specialist clinic on Jersey, an island of 100 000 inhabitants.
It was my late sister-in-law, Dr Mary Gabbott, a doctor trained in psychosexual medicine back in its early days and one of the first psychosexual specialists to work in a joint clinic with a urologist, who challenged me to train with the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine (IPM) and see these patients myself. For those readers who may not know much about the IPM, I shall provide a brief overview. More information is available on their website (www.ipm.org.uk).
The IPM is a specialist training organisation recognised by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (UK). It was initiated in the 1960s by a group of family planning doctors faced, like me, with increasing numbers of patients presenting with sexual difficulties, and with little help available. Originally an exclusive organisation for doctors, the IPM has recently changed its constitution and now welcomes allied health professionals (AHPs) whose work involves ‘body medicine’. In practice, these AHPs are mainly specialist nurses …
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