Edit ModuleShow Tags

"There Isn't a Man on Earth That I Can't Make Potent"

A local doctor pioneers the nation’s first hospital-based sexual medicine clinic


Dr. Irwin Goldstein | Photo: Becca Batista

Mary Trevellyan spent 25 years and more than $200,000 trying to remedy her constant vaginal pain. She might’ve resigned herself to a lifetime of discomfort had she not found Alvarado Hospital’s San Diego Sexual Medicine clinic, the first hospital-based program of its kind in the nation.

Clinic director Dr. Irwin Goldstein quickly recognized Trevellyan’s problem as “provoked vestibulodynia,” a condition characterized by pain at the vestibule where the vulva meets the vagina.

“No one was able to get me out of pain until Dr. Goldstein,” Trevellyan says. “I went to many pelvic pain specialists, trying treatment after treatment. Within a minute, he knew what my problem was and how to treat it.”

She underwent a vestibulectomy to remove sensitive tissue, Botox injections to her pelvic floor, and physical therapy to retrain her muscles.

“It’s like I hit the reset button,” she says, explaining that she is now pain-free. “He ended 25 years of suffering.”

Goldstein, a native of Quebec who began his career in Boston as a urologist, founded San Diego Sexual Medicine a decade ago to address the unmet diagnosis and treatment needs of men and women with sexual health problems. The 5,700-square-foot College East–area clinic has a staff of 15, including a physical therapist, sex therapist, nurse-practitioners, and a clinical research manager who also happens to be his wife, Sue Goldstein.

The clinic’s patients travel from all over the world, and range from 9-year-olds with persistent genital arousal disorder to 90-year-olds who’d still like to be sexually active.

But sexual health is an investment: The clinic doesn’t accept insurance, because most plans don’t cover their services.

Social stigma prevents many from seeking help for sexual dysfunctions, and according to Goldstein, a conservative political climate limits the availability of federal funding for research in the field.

“There are more people with sexual problems than people with breast cancer, than people with prostate cancer, than people with arthritis, yet medicine hasn’t taken it on using all the skills and diagnostic tests typical for medical professionals,” he says.

Patients for whom sex has become difficult or painful can benefit from an array of surgical procedures, prosthetics, sex-boosting prescriptions like Addyi and Viagra, and off-label uses of drugs typically prescribed for anxiety, depression, and even Parkinson’s disease.

“I am able to say to the man with erectile dysfunction, ‘There’s no reason for you to have erectile dysfunction. If you can’t stand it, I can help you,’” Goldstein says. “There isn’t a man on earth that I can’t make potent.”

Daniel Canfield jokes that he was “born limp.” His erectile dysfunction, caused by corporal fibrosis, bothered him from an early age. Viagra and penile vacuum pump devices didn’t work. Dr. Goldstein ultimately determined that Canfield was a candidate for penile implant surgery.

“The implant has changed my life,” Canfield says. “It makes a man bionic.”

“Men worry that erectile dysfunction is the death of their sex life, but there’s nothing to be afraid of,” Canfield says. “It’s not a death sentence. There are ways through it.”

Difficulties in the bedroom can be indicative of larger health problems, too, from spinal issues to blocked arteries to emotional strain. It’s worth getting checked out.

“Our goal is to make the intimate sex life more satisfying to the patient,” Goldstein says. “Where we think of this as a psychosocial issue, at the end of the day it’s an engineering problem. I have this fabulous perspective of sexuality through engineering that allows me to take a man or woman with a really horribly personal, very frustrating, embarrassing situation and say, ‘Okay, this is like getting help for your toe or your finger or your nose.’”

Edit ModuleShow Tags

San Diego Health 2017

2017 San Diego Physician Directory

Browse the San Diego County Medical Society Physician Directory

San Diego Health 2017: Doctors, Treatments, and Trends

From a marijuana biz incubator to a world-renowned sex doctor — we're unveiling the innovative treatments changing health care in San Diego

Rock Steady Boxing Turns People with Parkinson's into Fighters

One local instructor explains how uppercuts and jabs have struck a new path to a better quality of life

Rethinking Antibiotics in the Age of Superbugs

These local doctors want to make prescribers more aware of antibiotic resistance

"There Isn't a Man on Earth That I Can't Make Potent"

A local doctor pioneers the nation’s first hospital-based sexual medicine clinic

9 Interesting Facts About Sleep

A good night’s sleep is now widely considered just as critical to your health—if not more so—than a good diet, exercise, and not smoking.

3 Approaches to Wellness at Work

New wellness efforts target occupational hazards—waiters and their backs, doctors and their emotional well-being

Gyrotonic Is Taking Over San Diego

The workout aims to ease back pain and increase balance

Drinking Vinegar Is the Latest Wellness Trend

How going sour can be good for your health

Growing Old Doesn't Have to Be a Downer

UC San Diego professor Dilip V. Jeste explains how the unique issues around aging call for more celebration

San Diego Has a Cannabis Business Accelerator

Canopy San Diego is shifting how we think about the marijuana industry
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

A Family Afar: Palm Springs Then and Now

Our travelling dad learns how to redefine fun for the whole family in a city he loved before kids

On the Job with Hockey Player Jordan Samuels-Thomas

The former Gulls player takes a shot at mentoring San Diego youth on the ice

Julie Darling Named 'San Diego Magazine' Woman of the Year

Plus four other women are recognized at the 13th annual Celebrating Women event
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants
    Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants
  2. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  3. The Best of San Diego 2018
    We crown 103 winners in food, shopping, fitness, kids’ activities, and more
  4. Javier Plascencia Eyes Barrio Logan
    The award-winning chef is all over Mexico, but looks to make a San Diego comeback
  5. A Sneak Peek at ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’
    The Old Globe’s newest world-premiere musical promises a familiar soundtrack and all the good feels of an ’80s rom-com
  6. What San Diego Women Want
    53 working women share their compelling stories on navigating pay equity, the baby penalty, #MeToo, and more
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags