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Life-enhancing medicines such as Viagra, now a decade old, are only part of the story of the evolution of sexual health and medicine. Now, hospitals are discovering the power and connection between sexual health and overall health as part of their specialized service lines.

Alvarado Hospital's sexual medicine program has seen the demand for services under its sexual medicine program grow commensurately during the last several years after the hospital recruited one of the world’s leading sexual health clinicians, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a Boston urologist who relocated his practice and research program to San Diego.

Alvarado's sexual medicine, which was one of the first hospital-based sexual medicine program in the U.S., has attracted patients from all over the world, given the hospital national recognition in mainstream media resources such as CNN, Newsweek and many others, and fostered cross referrals to other key hospital programs such as its spine program.

“I cannot say that I ever imaged operating a sexual health program at a hospital,” said veteran hospital administrator Harris Koenig, CEO, Alvarado Hospital. “Yet this program is based on advanced clinical solutions that affect both the sexual health and more importantly the overall health of our patients. Our patients have life affecting conditions that need highly specialized care.”

The hospital’s consumer outreach of the sexual health program has evolved as well. “We were conservative on purpose," said Koenig. "We had to remain focused on our scientific clinical approach so as to differentiate our program from the barrage of online, retail and quasi-scientific programs. Today, we use online campaigns as well as a local lecture and educational series called 'Sex in Our City.' This lecture series continues to draw hundreds of San Diegans. They are really interested in the connection between sexual health and overall health and many simply have not been helped by their family doctor.”

Alvarado Hospital’s program enjoys a high degree of credibility in the profession, thanks to its medical director, Dr. Goldstein, who serves as editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Sexual Medicine. The hospital has also hosted national and international scientific meetings of sexual health clinicians. Dr. Goldstein and the hospital are actively involved in many peer-reviewed clinical trials, including flibanserin, the new medicine for women’s sexual health that will soon be approved by the FDA.

Sexual health is at for the forefront of a new era in hospital-based programs, one that includes medical and surgical care as well as extensive patient education.