Female Sexual Dysfunction : What Is It Actually? Causes, Treatments
Sexual health is just as important as physical or mental health. However, most people tend to avoid discussing topics related to sexual conditions. One such condition is female sexual dysfunction.
What is it, exactly? What are its causes and symptoms? What can you do to treat it? Find out more in the sections that follow.
1. What Is Sexual Dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction is a problem characterized by the disruption of the normal sexual response cycle. It can happen at any stage of the cycle and gets in the way of a couple’s or an individual’s sexual satisfaction.
The normal sexual response cycle is composed of four phases: motivation or excitement, plateau or arousal, orgasm, and resolution.
These stages all involve mental aspects such as emotions and thoughts, as well as physical aspects of the endocrine, circulatory, and nervous system. Here are brief definitions of the four stages:
- Motivation or excitement is the desire to start or continue sexual activity. This could be triggered by certain words, thoughts, smells, sights, or touch.
- Arousal is more subjective and physical. It involves actively thinking or feeling and also an increased blood flow to the genitals. This in turn causes vaginal wall engorgement or swelling, and encourages vaginal secretions that act as lubrication.
- Orgasm or climax is the peak of sexual excitement. This causes muscles in the body to tense up, and vaginal muscles to contract rhythmically. This can happen several times in women.
- Resolution is the final phase following a climax and is when a person feels good and relaxed. It can also happen after arousal even when orgasm is not achieved. Muscles also relax throughout the body.
Sexual responseis affected by a complex combination of many factors such as emotions, physiology, beliefs, past experiences, relationships, and lifestyle. When any of these is disrupted, one’s sexual satisfaction, desire, or arousal is affected.
Female sexual dysfunction is the medical term used to refer to recurring problems with a woman’s sexual response , orgasm, sexual desire, or pain that hampers a sexual relationship.
It can occur at some point on any stage of a woman’s life. It can also be lifelong or acquired. It can happen during all sexual situations or a specific sexual situation.
According to research, sexual dysfunction affects 31% of men and 43% of women. Despite being common, however, it is a topic that many people find embarrassing to talk about.
2. Causes Of Sexual Dysfunction In Women
There are various conditions and situations that cause sexual dysfunction ranging from physical or psychological causes, or a combination of both. Here is a list of the possible causes of sexual dysfunction in women:
- Heart, kidney or liver disease
- Major illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, bladder problems, and multiple sclerosis.
- Neurological disease
- Alcoholism and drug abuse
- Hormonal Imbalance or Irregularity
- Medical side effects of certain drugs like antidepressants, antihistamines, chemotherapy drugs, and drugs that regulate blood pressure
- Dyspareunia or painful sex
- Vaginal dryness after birth
- Work-related Stress and Fatigue
Psychological And Social Causes
- Anxiety or Depression
- Feeling guilty
- Long Term Stress
- Worrying about pregnancy
- History of Sexual or Emotional Abuse
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Sexual Addiction
- Negative Body Image that affects self-esteem and confidence
- Relationship or Marital Conflicts
- Religious or cultural issues
3. Female Sexual Dysfunction Symptoms And Types
The symptoms vary depending on the type or types of sexual dysfunction a person has. Here are the four main types and their accompanying symptoms:
Sexual Desire Disorders
This type involves problems associated with the inhibition, lack, or absence of sexual drive or more commonly known as having low libido. Symptoms include:
- Lack of sexual enthusiasm and interest
- Unwillingness to be sexual
- Boredom with usual sexual routine
Sexual Arousal Disorders
These disorders have previously been known as frigidity in women and impotence in men. The symptoms include:
- Aversion or avoidance of sexual contact
- Inability to be sexually excited
- Failure to secrete vaginal lubrication
- Blood flow problems to the vagina or clitoris
This type refers to the inability to achieve climax due to sexual inhibition, lack of knowledge or experience, stress, guilt, or anxiety. The single symptom that arises from this condition is anorgasmia, or failure to orgasm.
Sexual Pain Disorders
In women, sexual pain is mainly due to inadequate vaginal lubrication which can be caused by lack of excitement or stimulation. This can also be a result of contraceptive creams, breastfeeding, menopause, pregnancy, or anxiety.
Other causes could be previous sexual trauma or abuse, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, vaginitis, poor lubrication, previous surgery or a sexually transmitted disease. The symptoms are:
- Vaginismus or involuntary contractions of the vaginal wall during intercourse.
- Continuous arousal even without stimulation
- Vaginal dryness or tightness during sex
- Difficulty to reach orgasm
4. How To Cure Sexual Dysfunction
Fortunately, most sexual dysfunction cases can be treated, the success of which depends on the underlying cause or causes. More often than not, this requires a team of doctors, specialists, and therapists for the treatment of psychological or physical problems. Here are other methods and strategies to treat sexual dysfunction:
- Education. Basic knowledge of sexual function, anatomy, and changes as you age, as well as appropriate behavior and responses to sexual stimulations can help a person overcome anxiety and improve her sexual performance.
- Distractions like music, television, or videos.
- Communicating and bonding with your partner outside sexual intercourse can also help you become more comfortable.
- Pain relief through the use of pain relievers, lubricants, or certain sexual positions.
- Taking a warm bath before intercourse can also help you and your muscles relax.
- Hormonal treatments can also help control symptoms of sexual dysfunction.
Sexual dysfunction can affect your mental health, relationships, and life in general. The first and most important step to curing sexual dysfunction is talking to your partner and a doctor about your concerns.
“Hope you find the post helpful and we are excited to hear what you think of it!”