Sexual dysfunction is a problem that occurs in any phase of sexual response cycle that prevents a person or couple from enjoying sexual activity. The cycle of sexual response has four phases: stimulation, plateau, orgasm, and discharge.
Although scientists suggest that sexual dysfunction is common (43% of women and 31% of men report difficulties of various kinds), many people do not want to discuss this topic. Fortunately, most cases of sexual dysfunction can be treated, so it is very important to discuss your experiences with partner and doctor.
What Causes Sexual Dysfunction in Women?
Sexual dysfunction can result from a physical or psychological problem.
- Physical causes. A variety of physical and/or medical problems can lead to sexual problems. These diseases include diabetes mellitus, neurological diseases, hormonal imbalance, menopause, chronic kidney disease, liver failure, alcoholism and drug addiction. In addition, side effects of certain medications, including antidepressants, can affect sexual desire and sexual function.
- Psychological causes. Include work-related stress, anxiety, worries about sexual activities, relationship problems, depression, guilt and impact of sexual trauma from the past.
Who is Prone to Sexual Dysfunction?
Both men and women are prone to sexual dysfunction. Sexual problems occur in adults of all ages. Among those who are most susceptible to sexual dysfunction, there are elderly people, which can be associated with aging of the body.
How does Sexual Dysfunction Affect Women?
The most common problems associated with sexual dysfunction in women include:
- problems with sexual attraction. This is lack of sexual desire or interest to sex. A variety of factors can affect lack of sexual desire, including hormonal changes, medical illnesses, and treatment (e. g., cancer and chemotherapy), depression, pregnancy, stress, and fatigue. Boredom associated with regular sexual routine can also affect lack of desire to have sex. Also influenced by lifestyle factors – career and caring for children;
- inability to get excited. For women, inability to get excited during sexual activity often involves inadequate vaginal lubrication. Inability to get excited can also be associated with anxiety or inadequate stimulation. In addition, Canadian Health and Care Mall scientists are studying how problems with blood pressure affect vagina and clitoris;
- the absence of orgasm (anorgasmia). This is the absence of sexual relaxation (orgasm). It can arise from the denial of one’s feminine essence, inexperience, lack of knowledge and such psychological factors as feelings of guilt, anxiety or sexual trauma or rape in the past. Other factors leading to anorgasmia include inadequate stimulation, certain medications, and chronic diseases;
- painful sexual intercourse. Pain during intercourse can lead to a variety of problems, including endometriosis, tumor formation in the small pelvis, ovarian cysts, vaginitis, poor lubrication, scar tissue after surgery or STD. The disease called «vaginismus» is a painful, involuntary spasm of muscles surrounding the entrance to the vagina. It can appear in women who fear that penetration will be painful and can also arise because of painful sexual experience in the past.
How is Female Dysfunction Diagnosed?
The doctor will begin with physical examination and evaluation of symptoms. He can perform the gynecological examination to assess the health of reproductive organs and take a Pap smear to detect changes in cervical cells (to check for cancer or precancerous conditions). He or she can prescribe other tests to establish other medical problems that can lead to female sexual dysfunction.
Assessing your attitude towards sex, as well as other possible contributing factors (fear, anxiety, sexual trauma in the past/rape, relationship problems, alcohol, drug addiction, etc.) will help the doctor understand causes of the problem and give appropriate recommendations regarding treatment.