Female sexual dysfunction is the holistic term that comprises several conditions which may affect a woman’s ability to achieve sexual satisfaction. A recent study reveals that 4 out of 10 women experience some sort of sexual dysfunction at some point of their lives. Female sexual dysfunction can be frustrating for both you and your partner. Long-term occurrence of this condition often results in stress and dissatisfaction with an intimate relationship.
Sexual dysfunction includes desire, arousal, orgasmic, and sex pain disorders. Let us take a look into each of the conditions:
Decreased desire for sexual activity in women may be caused by several factors:
- Lifestyle factors – Keeping up with one’s career, taking care of the children, using medications that inhibit sexual desire (such as anti-hypertensive and some anti-depressant drugs), as well as the presence of another sexual dysfunction may decrease a woman’s sexual appetite.
- Boredom with sexual routines – As in most cases, you eventually get tired of doing the same things over and over again. The same is true with sexual activity. Suggesting changes in positions or venues, or the addition of erotic materials may be helpful in reviving sexual desire.
- Hormonal changes – Estrogen levels drop as a woman reaches the menopausal age. Estrogen replacement therapy has been shown to correlate positively with sexual activity, enjoyment and fantasies. Use of ERT needs to be consulted with your doctor.
Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD) is defined as the lack of physiological response even with ample stimulation. It is characterized by decreased, insufficient, or absent vaginal lubrication in a woman during sexual arousal or activity. The use of commercial lubricants or moisturizers may help in providing adequate lubrication during sexual activities, although the use of vitamin E and mineral oils are also options. In older women, inadequate stimulation may cause difficulty in arousal. In this case, encouraging adequate foreplay or using vibrators may be helpful. Anxiety or stress may also cause decreased arousal. Relaxation techniques such as taking a warm bath before intercourse may increase a woman’s arousal.
Anorgasmia, or the absence of orgasm during sexual intercourse, is caused by sexual inexperience or the lack of sufficient stimulation, and is common in women who have never experienced orgasm. It may also be caused my medical conditions such as diabetic neuropathy and multiple sclerosis. Taking anti-depressant medications, particularly Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), can also cause a woman not to achieve an orgasm.
Occasionally, psychological factors such as mentally inhibiting the orgasm may also occur. Treating the underlying cause of the orgasmic disorder is the primary course of management for this type of disorder. Maximizing stimulation and minimizing inhibition also helps in achieving an orgasm. Stimulation may include masturbation with prolonged stimulation, (initially up to one hour) and/or the use of a vibrator as needed. Muscular control of sexual tension (alternating contraction and relaxation of the pelvic muscles during high sexual arousal) also greatly increases sexual pleasure leading to orgasm.
SEX PAIN DISORDERS
- Dyspareunia – Defined as painful sexual intercourse, it is often caused by underlying medical conditions such as infections of the urinary tract, and the presence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Treating the underlying cause is the key measure in alleviating pain and reviving sexual interest.
- Vaginismus – A condition which affects a woman’s ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration, including sexual intercourse, insertion of tampons, and the penetration involved in gynecological examinations. This is caused by involuntary spasms of the muscles surrounding the pelvis. If a woman is led to believe that the first time she engages in penetrative sex will be painful, she may develop vaginismus because she expects pain. Progressive muscle relaxation techniques and vaginal dilatation by alternately contracting and relaxing the pelvic muscles may help in relieving this condition.