There’s nothing that can make us cringe quite like the expression “sexual health and wellness,” but it doesn’t have to be that way. Rise Medical is seeking not just to improve their patients’ sexual health and wellness, but also to end the stigma that comes along with talking about these topics.
Located in Orange County, California and Nashville, Tennessee, this innovative practice was founded by Dan and Kathleen Markel. Staffed by some of the best urologists and urogynecologists in the country, they offer a variety of sexual health treatments and services in a spa-like setting.
One of the most eyebrow-raising treatments they offer is known as “The O-Shot.” Formulated with exomes, it is injected into an area near the clitoris in the upper vagina. Studies have shown this to be a potential solution for women who have challenges with sexual arousal, achieving orgasm, and urinary incontinence among other things.
Rise also has a proprietary telemedicine platform, called Tele-Rise, where patients can connect nationally with a team of therapists, counselors, psychologists, and coaches.
I recently spoke with Markel and associate physician Krissy Daugherty about why conversations about sexual health can be so challenging, why we aren’t talking about sexual health with our primary care physicians and OB-GYNs, what’s wrong with our current healthcare system, and what makes Rise’s approach innovative and different.
How are mental health and sexual health connected?
Have you ever met anyone that’s happy with a bad sex life? At Rise, we want to open up conversations about intimacy and sexual wellness for everyone. Most of us have annual check-ups with our primary care providers. Why isn’t sexual wellness included?
As humans, we are programmed to seek intimacy and connection with others. Without it, we are lost. The conversations we have with our clients are inspiring, touching, and fulfilling. Hearing stories of embarrassment, hopelessness and loneliness are common among our clients suffering from ED (erectile dysfunction), low libido, pain, discomfort, and the resulting relationship fall-out. The body and the mind work hand-in-hand and at Rise, we understand that and treat both in a partnership.
Why do you think so many people are hesitant to discuss sexual health and wellness?
It’s a complicated and deeply personal issue. There are also religious components with many people that further complicate the matter. We’ve considered that and can provide counseling and advice from experts that come from a plethora of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds.
Why do you think there’s a stigma when it comes to talking about sexual wellness?
The stigma is related to the feeling of literal and figurative nakedness. Couple that with centuries of religious doctrines imposing guilt and shame around the act of sex, and we have a recipe for negative associations with something that couldn’t be more natural. These feelings are deeply embedded and result in the difficulty so many people have with open and honest conversations about the subject.
Why don’t primary care providers and OB-GNYNs encourage more dialogue about sexual wellness?
The reason is twofold. The business of modern Western healthcare is tied to insurance reimbursements. The reality for most doctors is they are trading time for money with very thin margins. They have to operate on volume. It isn’t that they don’t care, but doctors accepting insurance would go out of business if they spent the time required to address these issues.
Secondly, most people don’t feel comfortable walking into a rushed appointment and discussing the highly personal and nuanced issues of their sex lives. I want to make sure people understand this is not a criticism of doctors; the vast majority would love to spend more time with their patients. But the business model doesn’t allow for it.
What are the most common issues treated at Rise Medical?
For both men and women, it starts with improving blood flow and rejuvenating tissue with noninvasive, natural protocols established by our team of medical professionals. We assist the body in healing itself instead of imposing invasive treatments on it. We start by helping both men and women who are dissatisfied with their sexual wellness, both physically and emotionally, as they are almost always connected.
So many women experience hormone-related issues throughout their lives. Whether it be PMS, menstrual acne, fluctuations during pregnancy, postpartum depression, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause— hormonal imbalances can severely affect the overall quality of life and relationships. We offer complete attention and natural solutions to problems that so many women have resigned themselves to accept as “part of being female.”
Our treatment for urinary incontinence and leakage with the wonderful sexual side benefits is a game-changer for women who usually tell us, “I had no idea this treatment existed!”
Nearly all men in their lifetime will suffer from Erectile Dysfunction (ED) to some degree. There are only three treatments offered by most urologists. They all stop working over time— pills and shots of TriMix with an actual needle injection. When the shots stop working, men either give up altogether or resort to a surgically implanted penal pump. For some men with co-morbidity issues, that may be the only choice, but for the vast majority, we provide non-invasive treatments that naturally improve blood flow as well as the quality of their performance.
Rise also offers the O-Shot. What is it?
The O Shot’s sole purpose is to increase the intensity of the female orgasm. Better orgasms, better sex. Period. You know if you need it.
What happens during the shot? Where is it injected?
A topical numbing cream is applied to all injection sites so that it minimizes discomfort during the procedure. Due to the extra precautions taken, most women do not feel anything during the procedure except for mild pressure. Once the areas are completely numb, the trained medical provider will inject the clitoris, around the urethra/upper vaginal area, and the G-spot.