ParkinSex, APDA guide for intimacy, honored by healthcare industry

MM+M awards it Best in Show, gold for customer experience and video

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by Andrea Lobo |

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The American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA) received three MM+M awards, including the titanium Best in Show, for its ParkinSex guide to help people with Parkinson’s disease and their partners retain sexual intimacy.

Now in its 20th year, the MM+M Awards recognize creativity and effectiveness in healthcare marketing and communications, with entries judged by industry peers.

“ParkinSex is one of the most compassionate and complete entries the judges have ever seen, addressing a well-known — yet long-ignored — problem,” the MM+M organization wrote on its awards website. “Kind, practical, and imaginative, it helps Parkinson’s disease patients reclaim sexual intimacy, taking the definition of wellness out of the doctor’s office and into the bedroom.”

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Sex and sexual intimacy between partners affected by Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is associated with sexual difficulties, largely due to disease symptoms that include tremors, rigidity, and fatigue. They can affect partners both physically and emotionally.

“We created ParkinSex to help people with [Parkinson’s disease] rekindle that special connection and find new ways to revive intimacy, and to have it honored and celebrated in this way is so rewarding,” Leslie A. Chambers, APDA’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

“We know that intimacy can play a significant role in quality of life, yet the challenges of Parkinson’s can often result in intimacy and connection getting left behind,” Chambers said.

ParkinSex, created in partnership with Havas Health Plus, aims to help people with Parkinson’s and their partners connect and recover sexual wellness.

It consists of a kit offering “stimulating items,” such as massage oil or a feather, along with a book guiding their use, that is meant to specifically address the physical and emotional requirements of people with Parkinson’s.

Also available as a video booklet with a downloadable PDF version, the work is illustrated by the Chilean artist Xaviera López.

The guide suggests several intimacy strategies, including scheduling a time for intimacy and creating a safe space to connect and stimulate the senses with music or a candle. It addresses core questions regarding sexual intimacy, reinforcing the importance of physical contact, and allowing patients to discover what makes them feel good and connected.

It also considers that people with Parkinson’s can feel one way when their medications are working well, and an entirely different way when symptoms are present.

“As a movement disorders specialist, I know that sexual dysfunction can be difficult to bring up with a health care provider,” said Rebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, chief mission officer at APDA. “ParkinSex allows people to explore the topic in the comfort of their own home, on their own time, and get some practical ideas that will hopefully increase their quality of life.”

Launched on Valentine’s Day 2023, a first printing quickly sold out. A waitlist is available as necessary for those wanting the kit, shipped to a patient’s home at no charge.

In addition to the Titanium Best in Show honor, the APDA and ParkinSex took gold in two award categories: Best Use of Customer Experience Marketing and Best Use of Film or Video.