Female Sexual Dysfunction

Recurrent problems with sexual dysfunction, in the absence of any identifiable cause, such as problems with desire, orgasm or pain, which cause distress or strain in your relationship with your partner are referred to as sexual dysfunction. There are some identifiable/secondary causes of female sexual dysfunction, which can be due to disease condition or medications.

Many women experience problems with sexual function at some point, and some have difficulties throughout their lives. Female sexual dysfunction can occur at any stage of life. It may occur only in certain sexual situations or in all sexual situations. Sexual response involves a complex interplay of physiology, emotions, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle and relationships. A change of any of the components can affect sexual desire, arousal or satisfaction, and treatment often involves more than one approach.

Classification of Female Sexual Dysfunction

  1. Low sexual desire: It is the most common of all female sexual dysfunctions; involving a lack of sexual interest and willingness to be sexual.
  2. Female sexual interest arousal disorder: You may have normal interest for sex, but may experience difficulty with arousal or are unable to become aroused or maintain arousal during sexual activity.
  3. Orgasmic disorder: You have constant difficulty in achieving orgasm in spite of adequate sexual arousal and ongoing stimulation.
  4. Genito Penetrative Pain Disorder (GPPD): You have pain associated with sexual vaginal contact or penetration.

Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual problems often develop when your hormones are constantly changing, such as after having a baby or during menopause. Major diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, can also contribute to sexual dysfunction.

  • Physical Causes: Medical conditions such as cancer, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and bladder problems, can lead to sexual dysfunction. Certain medications, including some antidepressants, blood pressure medications, antihistamines and chemotherapy drugs, can decrease your sexual desire and your body’s ability to experience orgasm.
  • Hormonal Causes: Low estrogen levels after menopause can lead to changes in your genital tissues and sexual responsiveness. A reduction in estrogen levels leads to decreased blood flow to the pelvic region, which results in less genital sensation, as well as needing more time to build arousal and reach orgasm. The vaginal lining also becomes thinner and less elastic, particularly if you’re not sexually active. This can lead to painful intercourse (Dyspareunia). Body hormonal levels also change after giving birth and during breast-feeding, which can result in low desire. This can also lead to vaginal dryness, which can cause pain during sex.
  • Psychological and Social Causes. Anxiety or depression can also cause or contribute to sexual dysfunction. So also long term stress and a history of sexual abuse. The worries of pregnancy and demands of being a new mother may have similar effects. Long term disputes between partners about sex can reduce sexual responsiveness. Cultural and religious issues and problems with body image also can contribute.

Risk factors

Some factors increase your risk of sexual dysfunction;

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Neurological conditions, such as spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis
  • Gynecological conditions, such as vulvo-vaginal atrophy, infections or lichen sclerosis
  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants or high blood pressure medications
  • Emotional or psychological stress, especially with regard to your relationship with your partner
  • A history of sexual abuse

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