Female sexual dysfunction is often psychological as well as physical
Sexual dysfunction in women may be related to desire, arousal, orgasm or pain. The problem may be purely physical, or it may be rooted in something psychological, or some combination of physiological and emotional factors.
Different types of sexual disorders in women
Women may experience symptoms that signal a sexual disorder in any of these areas:
- Lack of sexual desire – Having low or no sexual appetite. More common in women approaching and beyond menopause, loss of libido may also appear in women who have experienced sexual trauma, who are taking certain types of medication (e.g., antidepressants) or who are dealing with unusually stressful circumstances in their lives.
- Difficulty becoming aroused – Not able to become aroused or maintain physical arousal. A woman may “want” to have sex but is unable to have sustained genital arousal.
- Inability to achieve orgasm – Taking a remarkably long time or inability to have an orgasm. In spite of sufficient sexual arousal and stimulation, some women repeatedly have delayed or are unable to achieve orgasm.
- Pain related to sexual stimulation – Vaginal or pelvic pain that only occurs with sexual stimulation. Dyspareunia, involving pain from thrusting, and vaginismus, an involuntary contraction of vaginal muscles, are examples of disorders that cause sexual pain.
Diagnosing and treating female sexual dysfunction
Because of the complexity of women’s sexual response, it can be difficult to identify exactly what is causing symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Your doctor will likely look at various factors that may be affecting your response to sex, including:
- History of sex trauma or abuse
- Issues of trust with your partner
- Medications you are currently taking
- Menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms
- Physical disease
- Emotional stress
Treatment for female sexual dysfunction is entirely dependent on the source of the problem and may include counseling to identify mental and emotional barriers to healthy sexual activity, or may involve hormone therapy to increase libido and address age-related imbalances.