Female Sexual Dysfunction

Female sexual dysfunction refers to recurrent problems during any phase of the sexual response cycle (excitement, plateau, orgasm, resolution) that causes distress or negatively affects your relationship with your partner. This condition affects 43% of women of all ages and is most common in those aged 45-64.

  • Causes

    The following factors tend to be related:

    Female Body
    female body anatomy
    Factors from different body systems may play a part in female sexual dysfunction.
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  • Definition

    Female sexual dysfunction refers to recurrent problems during any phase of the sexual response cycle (exclient, plateau, orgasm, resolution) that causes distress or negatively affects your relationship with your partner. This condition affects 43% of women of all ages and is most common in those aged 45-64.

  • Diagnosis

    Defining sexual dysfunction is largely dependent on your own view of sexual difficulties and your relationship with your partner.

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, sexual history, and the medications you take. Your doctor will also conduct a gynecologic exam. You may also have a psychological evaluation.

    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done using:

    • Swabs of vaginal fluid
    • Cervical swabs
    • Urine tests

  • Prevention


    You can't avoid all the risk factors for female sexual dysfunction. However, the steps below will help you avoid certain risk factors.

    • If a medical condition is the cause, follow the treatment.
    • If medications are the problem, ask your doctor about changing the medication or the regimen.
    • Avoid emotional stress.
    • If interpersonal conflict is the cause, try relationship counseling.

  • Risk Factors

    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors include medical conditions or diseases, hormonal changes, side effects of medications, and psychological and social conditions.

  • Symptoms


    Symptoms of sexual dysfunction include experiencing personal distress because of one or more of the following:

    • Low sexual desire—You have a lack of interest in sex and have poor libido.
    • Inability to become aroused—Although your desire to have sex may exist, you are unable to become physically aroused or to maintain arousal during sex. This may be due to insufficient vaginal lubrication, anxiety, or lack of clitoral/vaginal sensation.
    • Orgasmic disorder—You consistently have difficulty achieving sexual climax, or are unable to do so.

    • Pain during intercourse—You experience pain during sexual stimulation and/or penetration.
      Vaginismus
      is an involuntary, painful vaginal contraction that inhibits penetration.

  • Treatment

    Because many factors can lead to the disorder, both medical and nonmedical treatments may be recommended.


    Medical treatments address the underlying conditions, and include the following:

    • Changing medication that may have sexual side effects
    • Treating depression and anxiety
    • Using vaginal lubricants to relieve dyspareunia, vaginal dryness, and irritation

    • Possible hormone therapies—these include estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and androgen therapy
      • Estrogen supplementation, such as the low-dose estradiol skin patch or topical estrogen, can help with vaginal pain and dryness.
      • Androgen therapy includes the controversial use of testosterone treatment for sex drive/libido. The treatment is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at this time and is only to be used under medical supervision.


    Other treatments to improve sexual health and decreased desire include:

    • Working with a sex therapist
    • Making lifestyle changes to improve your overall health through things like diet and exercise

    • Strengthening your pelvic muscles by doing
      Kegel exercises