The government has long catered to the sexual desires of men including those in military uniform. This is depicted in vintage military recruitment ads portraying a nearly naked woman posed provocatively on or around military equipment along with sexually suggestive phrases. It has been the M.O. of returning service members to frequent strip bars and even prostitutes. Moreover, if you were a fly on the wall listening to a group of Marines chatting in the field, you’d think that sex was the entire purpose and mission of the organization.
It has been accepted as the norm for young military men to chase women. And a man’s sexual function has come to define a man’s masculinity and self identity in our society.
After leaving the military, the sexual desires of a male veteran continues to be a priority for our government.
When it comes to the Department of Veteran Affairs, would it surprise you to know that if a male veteran can get their erectile dysfunction, or ED, service connected for disability then the veteran gets free Viagra every month? The veteran is then also entitled to a free penis pump. Additionally, the government will write him a check for $110+ each month to help him cope with his issue.
Meanwhile, female veterans are hung out to dry.
They do not have access to medications. Their medical providers at the VA are unaware that females can even get the female version of a pump. And it is one of the steepest uphill battles in pursuit of VA service connection for her sexual dysfunction. As an experienced physician assistant, I’m here to tell you that women have greater risk factors and statistically suffer from sexual arousal dysfunction far more than men.
Yet, the lone conclusion one can draw is that the VA cares more about a man becoming aroused than a woman. Especially, when you examine how the VA happily grants a male veteran benefits for ED as opposed to a female veteran that is readily denied benefits for sexual arousal dysfunction.
So why does the VA go above and beyond for the men to become aroused while women get the shaft?
I’m not sure we will ever have an answer but if I can borrow a few minutes of your time and you are willing to have a candid discussion, I’d like to highlight just how male veterans’ sex life is prioritized to the VA as well as offer a little hope to the female veteran’s in the end.
Sexual Dysfunction in Female Veterans is a Real Thing
The difference between sexual function and dysfunction in men can be quite obvious. On the contrary, the difference in women’s sexual function and dysfunction is often unnoticed.
From a medical perspective, a hormone found in both men and women, testosterone, has been linked to sex drive. Men normally have a higher level of testosterone than women normally do. Therefore, women start at a disadvantage when it comes to the supply of fuel for the fire. Statistically, women suffer from female sexual arousal disorder, or FSAD, at 41% compared to 23% of their male counterparts’ ED.
But when it comes to medical treatment for a female, I have nothing to offer them in the clinic other than control of possible contributing factors. Contributing factors are diseases or conditions that can make the sexual dysfunction worse. These are a mile long for both men and women and include but are not limited to stress, depression, anxiety, PTSD, mental health disorders, diabetes, hypertension, hormonal imbalance, and medications.
While men have the same contributing factors, unlike women, they have a glimpse of hope when it comes to medical treatment options.
There is a large industry built just for helping men with erection problems. This includes medications approved by the FDA like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, or Stendra, medications to inject into the penis, and supplement companies which claim to “naturally” bring back sex drive and power. The commercials for these products often aim to lower a man’s masculinity and self identity in order to shame them into “needing” treatment. In turn, men are willing to spare no expense to maintain an erection and the industry has been built to support their efforts.
Luckily for the men, to address their erectile dysfunction, the VA will supply the veteran with monthly prescriptions for the FDA approved medications, if they are service connected.
Just recently, in 2019, the first FDA approved medication for female sexual difficulties was approved. However, that medication is only approved for certain female patients and is not a catch all for suffering women. Despite FDA approval it will still take years for the VA to add it to their medication formulary. Sadly, supplying the female veteran with a medication to treat their condition is not an option.
Access to Pumps
I was surprised to hear the VA was offering penis pumps to men. I think I was more surprised that as a taxpayer, I am paying for penis pumps. To support the use of the pump, the Veteran’s Health Library directs a male veteran how to use their penis pump to ensure correct usage. But don’t try to find anything in the Library for female pumps or anything about the female libido. It doesn’t exist. Here, too, the VA is impotent.
Despite the lack of available professional education from the VA, female veterans can also get a pump. For most female veterans “a simple google search” will direct a woman how to use a female pump.
Medically, both male and female sex pumps have the same objective: increase blood flow to the area. The increased blood flow increases sensitivity making intercourse more enjoyable.
A service connection for ED pays the male veteran a little over $110.00 a month.
A female veteran would receive the same, if they obtained a service connection for their FSAD.
Being a clinician and knowing statistics for women in the sex department, as well as being an accredited VA agent, I have advised and encouraged female veterans to seek service connection for FSAD. I first made sure they sought advice from their treating medical provider and discussed clinical optimization of contributing factors and to obtain a diagnosis. Then, I filed their application with the supporting evidence.
Not once was one of my female veterans granted service connection for FSAD on the first try. This was a stark contrast to the hundreds of male veterans who I have assisted with getting their ED service connected.
In a time where “standing for equality” is thrown in our face, why are the women still falling short?
Something must be done.
Female Veterans Can Fight for their Sexual Health
If the recent wars have taught us anything about females in uniform, they have shown that women have the grit and determination to fight when it matters most.
It is perhaps the heart of this article that a call to action would be made for women to fight for their benefits associated with their sexual health. A secondary call would be for the VA to step up and treat FSAD as aggressively as they treat ED. However, the latter will never happen unless we can get women into the fight.
As it pertains to the VA, your willingness to fight is a gift to the next female veteran. Here at Valor 4 Vet we exist for the purpose of fighting the righteous and noble battle to get veterans what they deserve. Yes, that includes female veterans and yes, that means fighting for your sexual function as well.
I understand that discussing FSAD can be embarrassing to women, especially knowing there is no real treatment for the disorder. Fortunately, you’re not alone here. Embarrassment is a shared feeling among both men and women when discussing sex with your medical provider. Thankfully, your medical provider has had worse discussions with their patients than the discussion of FSAD. Trust me.
But this is where you start. Talk with your medical provider to see if you have a female sexual dysfunction and ask your provider if it is at least a 50% probability related to one of your service connected conditions. This is to get a feel for your chances with a VA disability claim. The medical provider doesn’t need to write their medical opinion in their medical report but the discharge paperwork you receive at checkout should include the diagnosis.
You will want to follow up with the provider’s office about a week later to obtain copies of the medical report from the date of your visit. This report needs to be sent to the VA.
To get a female pump, the primary care provider at the VA medical center will need to place a consult to prosthetics. The consult should indicate the diagnosis, the type (female vulva pump) and the size. Once the pump has been ordered and arrives at the VA, the veteran will pick up the pump from their primary care provider after the veteran is educated on how to use it.
When you apply for service connection for FSAD, you can do so online and save yourself some embarrassment. You won’t have to talk with your Service Officer about filing your claim if you don’t absolutely have to.
Attach your medical provider’s report with your 21-526EZ to apply for VA disability benefits.
Lastly, I charge my fellow females to seek benefits for your sexual dysfunction. Unfortunately, it is a steep uphill battle that inspired this article but a battle that is long overdue.
Updated April 27, 2023