Latest advances in female sexual interest/arousal disorder – Dr. Lau delivered a ground-breaking paper presented at the 22nd Congress of the European Society of Sexual Medicine (ESSM) held in Prague, Czech Republic on January 23, 2020.
As a physician scientist who has pioneered multiple medical technology innovations, Dr. Lau has been working to understand and improve female sexual interest/arousal disorder (SIAD). Having been a gynecologist/cosmetic vaginal surgeon for over 25 years, Dr. Lau is keenly aware of how prevalent sexual dysfunction is, affecting the lives of many women, and yet so challenging to treat. There needs to be an effective theoretical framework to understand the causes of this complex issue in order to come up with the appropriate treatments accordingly. Drawing from his training and working experience as a physicist, and collaborating with his long time research colleague, Professor Leonard Pease of the University of Utah (in Engineering, Internal Medicine and Pharmaceutics), Dr. Lau presented at the ESSM in Prague this past January a ground-breaking approach in using the PLC process control loop model – commonly used in engineering and science – to study SIAD in terms of causations and treatments.
In summary, the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) model has inputs from sensors – in the case of SIAD, physical senses and interoceptive awareness, modified by the mechanism of “predictive perception” – in the case of SIAD, for example, past intimate experiences good or bad. These inputs feed into the Central Processing CPU, the brain, to generate the output responses – sexual responses in SIAD. The information for responses is then used to feedback to the sensors and predictive perception mechanism as a control loop. The process is highly automated in our body but can be modified by external interventions, such as treatments for SAID at the central level using Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), or vaginal rejuvenation surgery to enhance local sensation in the peripheral level. The PLC model, as proposed by Drs Lau and Pease, can be used to quantify using mathematical models the various input, modifier and output parameters to study and understand the complex problem of SIAD.