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Female Sexual Dysfunction

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Definition

Female sexual dysfunction refers to problems that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual activity.

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Causes

  • Physical
    • Chronic diseases - Such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or liver failure, neurological diseases

    • Hormonal imbalances - Decrease in the female hormone estrogen is related to aging and menopause. These hormonal imbalances produce changes in the body like poor vaginal lubrication, decline in sexual arousal, decreased genital sensation and orgasm. These changes play a very vital role in sexual activity and the level of satisfaction obtained by the sexual partners.

    • Menopause - The loss of estrogen and emotional changes during menopause are major contributors to a woman's loss of interest in sex and ability to become aroused. However, some post-menopausal women may experience an increase in sexual satisfaction. This may be due to decreased anxiety over getting pregnant. In addition, women of this age group have fewer responsibilities towards children and family, allowing them to relax and enjoy intimacy with their sexual partners.

    • Hysterectomy - Surgical removal of the uterus produces similar changes as menopause that may be associated with the hormonal changes. Furthermore, nerves and blood vessels which are vital to sexual function can be damaged during the surgical procedure.

    • Inhibited sexual desire - This involves a lack of sexual desire or interest in sex. Major contributing factors for this problem include hormonal changes, medical conditions and treatments such as cancer chemotherapy, depression, pregnancy, stress and fatigue.

    • Inability to become physically aroused - This problem may be due to insufficient vaginal lubrication, anxiety or inadequate stimulation by the sexual partner. The blood vessels and nerves supplying the vagina and clitoris may be severed during hysterectomy other other operations involving the vagina and clitoris.

    • Lack of orgasm or anorgasmia - This problem involves delay or absence of sexual climax (orgasm). It can be caused by sexual inhibition, inexperience, lack of knowledge of sex. Psychological factors such as guilt, anxiety or a past sexual trauma or abuse, certain medications, chronic diseases, insufficient stimulation by the sexual partner are major contributing factors.

    • Painful intercourse or dyspareunia - This can be caused by a number of problems, including endometriosis, a pelvic mass, ovarian cysts, vaginitis, poor lubrication, the presence of scar tissue from surgery and a sexually transmitted disease. There may be painful, involuntary spasm of the muscles surrounding the vaginal entrance. This condition is called vaginismus. This may occur in women who are afraid of the pain that they might experience during penetration or from a previous traumatic or painful experience.

    • Alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Psychological
    • These include work-related stress and anxiety, concern about sexual performance, marital or relationship problems, depression, feelings of guilt and the effects of a past sexual trauma.

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Implications

Many women experience problem with sexual function and intimacy at some point in their lives. However, when the problems become persistent, they can be a tremendous cause of distress and have a negative impact on the relationship of a couple. If these problems are consistent, consult your physician immediately as these problems may be due to causes that are treatable and reversible such as painful intercourse due to a cyst or a benign growth in the vagina or lack of interest in sex due to hormonal imbalance. An evaluation and treatment of the underlying cause by your physician can certainly impact the outlook for sexual dysfunction.

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What You Can Do

  • Education about human body, sexual activity and functions, normal sexual changes associated with aging, sexual behaviors and responses, may help a woman to overcome her anxieties in these areas.
  • Learn techniques to enhances and methods to enhance sexual stimulation by the use of erotic materials such as videos or books, masturbation, and changes to sexual routines and positions. This may eliminate anxiety, increase the level of relaxation make sexual activity more fun and gratifying.
  • Encourage physically stimulating activities such as sensual massage, a warm bath or lighting scented candles can be used to promote comfort and increase the level of relaxation between partners.
  • If the act of intercourse is painful, use sexual positions that allow the woman to control the depth of penetration. This may help may help relieve some pain. The use of vaginal lubricants can help reduce pain that may be caused by friction.
  • Consult your physician for an evaluation of your attitude regarding sex such as fear, anxiety, past sexual trauma or abuse, relationship problems, alcohol or drug abuse etc.

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Female Sexual Dysfunction