Sex Therapy Pioneer Reflects on Revolution in Couples' Counseling
MAYWOOD -- Seasoned sex therapist Domeena Renshaw, MD, is set to retire later this summer after more than 40 years of counseling couples in Loyola’s Sex Clinic.
With no funding, this pioneer in sexual health founded the first sex clinic in the Chicago area in 1972. Renshaw recognized the need for the discipline after working in gynecology and urology and noting the overwhelming lack of sex education available at the time. As an accomplished author, lecturer and counselor, her work has since helped to legitimize the field of sex therapy.
“Little was known about sexual difficulties when I began my clinic,” said Dr. Renshaw, director, Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Sex Clinic and professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Today, you cannot go more than a few minutes without seeing an erectile dysfunction commercial on television.”
Domeena Renshaw, MD, was born in South Africa, where she obtained her medical degree. She went on to complete her psychiatric residency in the United States and in 1968, joined the faculty of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Since founding the Loyola Sex Clinic, Renshaw has treated approximately 3,000 married couples and has trained more than 3,000 professionals. Her approach included providing married couples with seven weeks of counseling using a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals, including specialists in psychiatry, psychology, gynecology, urology, family medicine, nursing and social work. Single patients also were counseled individually or in a six-week all-female or all-male, small-group setting.
Renshaw’s counseling has focused on educating couples about sex and human anatomy as well as opening the lines of communication. The clinic has never had a shortage of patients who have hailed from all over the state and country.
“In 41 years of treating patients with sexual problems, I have just about seen and heard it all,” said Dr. Renshaw. “Working with couples on such a personal level has been a rewarding experience.”
Renshaw notes that the biggest change in sex therapy over the years is that males now increasingly complain about lack of interest in sex. Women are no longer always the ones to say, "Not tonight, Honey, I have a headache." Other common sexual health issues are related to conflict, physical and emotional problems and the economy in recent months. She also counsels couples with unconsummated marriages. To date, Renshaw has counseled approximately 200 couples who sought professional help for an unconsummated marriage with the longest duration being 28 years.
While she will no longer see patients, Renshaw will continue to lecture at LUHS.
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.