Female Sexual Dysfunction: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

women sexual dysfunction
Contributed by: Abshar Faheem


Understanding female sexual dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction is a condition that prevents a couple from experiencing satisfaction or pleasure during sexual activity. Sexual dysfunction includes painful intercourse, painful contraction of the vaginal muscles, and problems with sexual desire, arousal, or orgasm that may cause distress. When this condition occurs in women, it is called female sexual dysfunction. Around 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men experience sexual dysfunction at some time during their life. 

This condition can happen with anyone regardless of gender, age, and at any phase of the sexual response cycle. The sexual response cycle includes excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. In addition, desire and arousal are both parts of the excitement phase of the sexual response. It is imperative to know that women do not always go through these phases in order. Female sexual dysfunction is a common condition that can take many forms and have many causes. 

The most common types of sexual dysfunction in women include anorgasmia, dyspareunia, hypoactive sexual disorder, and sexual arousal disorder. Several women are reluctant and embarrassed to discuss their sexual problems but as treatment is available in the market, now they can share it with their partner and healthcare provider.


Causes of female sexual dysfunction

Satisfying sex involves your feelings towards your partner, mind, beliefs, your body, health, and other factors. Various types of factors and causes may contribute to female sexual dysfunction but the most common are related to physical conditions, psychological or emotional issues, medication, drugs, and alcohol.

Some of the physical conditions causing female sexual dysfunction include:


  • Heart disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Thyroid disease 
  • Nerve conditions e.g., multiple sclerosis
  • Fatigue 
  • Scarring from surgery or radiation treatment 
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Menopause
  • Blood flow disorders 
  • Certain medications and treatments including antidepressants and chemotherapy
  • Gynecologic conditions including endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and vaginitis


Some of the physiological conditions causing female sexual dysfunction include:


  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Past physical or sexual abuse
  • Relationship issues
  • Low self-esteem


Other factors affecting female sexual dysfunction include:


  • High blood pressure drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Epilepsy drugs
  • Certain cancer drugs
  • Medication for urinary tract infection
  • Steroids
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Long-term consumption of heroin 
  • Illegal drugs


Diagnosis and treatment


Women with sexual dysfunction may talk to their healthcare providers. In diagnosis, your healthcare may ask about the physical and psychological factors associated with sex. Your healthcare provider may also ask about the symptoms, other disorders, drug use, relationship between partners, mood, self-esteem, childhood relationships, past sexual experiences, and personality traits. Your healthcare provider may also do a physical exam to find out if any gynecological issues are there. 

If you experience pain, your healthcare provider may do a pelvic exam and pap smear. The medications you take will also be reviewed by your healthcare provider. In some cases, an imaging test may be done to check the tumors and cysts. A blood test is taken to know the hormonal imbalances in the female body. Your healthcare providers can also talk about your physiological factors so be honest with them. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to share your anxieties and fears. In some cases, you may be asked to talk with a mental health professional or a relationship counselor.

Female sexual dysfunction includes a variety of treatments including arousal techniques, counseling, hormone therapy, medication, and pain management.


Home remedies to address female sexual dysfunction

In addition, various home remedies can help you to prevent or reduce the risk of female sexual dysfunction including


  • Avoid the use of illegal drugs
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, and smoking tobacco
  • Maintaining a balanced diet
  • keeping a healthy body weight
  • Regular workout
  • Consuming saffron
  • Eating apples
  • Adding herbs like fenugreek, maca, red clover
  • Intake of omega-3 fats
  • Intake of foods rich in zinc such as chickpeas, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and eggs
  • Avoid processed and chemically derived foods including soda


The bottom line

You should seek help from a healthcare provider if you experience pain and also discuss with your doctor about female sexual dysfunction risk before taking any medication. We hope you find this article informative for yourself.


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