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Sexual Dysfunction in Women

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Sexual dysfunction refers to any problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the person from experiencing satisfaction from sexual activity. According to the Cleveland Clinic (2015), the sexual response cycle refers to the sequence of physical and emotional changes that occur as a person becomes sexually aroused and participates in sexually stimulating activities. The sexual response cycle has four phases: desire or excitement (libido), arousal (excitement), orgasm and resolution. Problems can occur with lack of desire, lack of pleasure during sex, inability to have an orgasm, a hybrid or combination of symptoms, and everything in between. What does this mean? If you are not enjoying any part of sex, whether it is intercourse or masturbation, you may be suffering sexual dysfunction.

Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is not just a problem for postmenopausal women. While sexual dysfunction is most prevalent in women over 40, sexual dysfunction can occur at any age and is equally distressing. Most people are aware of male sexual dysfunction, and the stigma of erectile dysfunction is fading. However, many women are not aware of FSD. Hence, these women may not seek treatment. Dr Rand (2018) from the Regenerative and Sports Medicine Clinic estimates that about 10% of women in the United States have FSD. According to the Diabetes Council around 40 percent of females in the United States suffer from various degrees of sexual dysfunction (Fachetti, 2018).

FSD may be cause by physical changes in the body or psychological and emotional problems that may arise. FSD can even be a combination of physical and psychological disruption in the body. Depression, bipolar, eating disorders, and anxiety are just a few psychological conditions that can contribute to FSD. FSD can be caused by a multitude of physiological conditions. Diabetes and heart disease are leading causes of FSD (Fachetti, 2018). Managing blood pressure and blood glucose are essential in keeping our organs with good blood supply. Medications can also cause FSD. Unfortunately, many medications that treat blood pressure, depression, pain, and other chronic conditions can lead to FSD (Fachetti, 2018). Other drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine (i.e. cigarettes) are also common causes of sexual dysfunction (Cleveland Clinic, 2015).

Specific gynecological issues like vaginal dryness, pelvic scarring, endometriosis, and chronic pelvic pain also influence sexual satisfaction (Rand, 2018). Hormone changes in the body often throw off balance in the body and can cause FSD. Decreased estrogen can cause vaginal dryness which can cause pain with intercourse. Low progesterone can cause depressive symptoms, mood swings, anxiety, and decreased libido. Low testosterone in women can also decrease energy and libido (Fachetti, 2018).

If you think you may be suffering from FSD, do not suffer in silence. Speak with your health care provider. Your health care provider can assess your emotional well-being and search for any possible physiological contributors to your FSD. Sex should be pleasurable. Your health care professional can help you to get back on the road to enjoying sex again.


Cleveland Clinic. (2015). Sexual Dysfunction. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9121-sexual-dysfunction

Fachetti, L. (2018). Can Diabetes Cause Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Women? Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://www.thediabetescouncil.com/can-diabetes-cause-sexual-dysfunction-men-women

Rand. (2018). Causes for female sexual dysfunction in the US. Retrieved January 17, 2019, from https://psrmed.com/causes-for-female-sexual-dysfunction-in-the-us/

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