Female sexual dysfunction



What is female sexual dysfunction?

Female sexual dysfunction is persistent, recurrent problems with sexual response, desire, orgasm or pain that distress you or strain your relationship with your partner. Nowadays, many women experience problems with sexual function at some point. Female sexual dysfunction can occur at any stage of life. It can be lifelong or be acquired later in life. It can 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. Disruption of any component can affect sexual desire, arousal or satisfaction, and treatment often involves more than one approach.

How common is female sexual dysfunction?

Female sexual dysfunction may become more common in women over 50 years old.

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of female sexual dysfunction?

The signs and symptoms will manifest depending on the type or types of female sexual dysfunction you experience:

Low sexual desire

This most common of female sexual dysfunctions involves a lack of sexual interest and willingness to be sexual.

Sexual arousal disorder

Your desire for sex might be intact, but you have difficulty with arousal or are unable to become aroused or maintain arousal during sexual activity.

Orgasmic disorder

You have persistent or recurrent difficulty in achieving orgasm after sufficient sexual arousal and ongoing stimulation.

Sexual pain disorder

You have pain associated with sexual stimulation or vaginal contact.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes female sexual dysfunction?

Sexual problems often happen when your hormones are in flux, such as after having a baby or during menopause. Some major illness, such as cancer, diabetes, or heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, can also play a role to sexual dysfunction. Factors, often interrelated, that contribute to sexual dissatisfaction or dysfunction include:


Any number of medical conditions, including cancer, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and bladder problems, can lead to sexual dysfunction. Some 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.


Lower estrogen levels after menopause may lead to changes in your genital tissues and sexual responsiveness. A decrease in estrogen is able to lead to decreased blood flow to the pelvic region, which can result in needing more time to build arousal and reach orgasm, as well as less genital sensation.

Psychological and social

Untreated anxiety or depression can cause or contribute to sexual dysfunction, as can long-term stress and a history of sexual abuse. The worries of pregnancy and demands of being a new mother may have similar effects.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for female sexual dysfunction?

There are many risk factors for female sexual dysfunction, such as:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Neurological conditions, such as spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • 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

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is female sexual dysfunction diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. You also should discuss your sexual and medical history with your doctor. You might be uneasy talking with your doctor about such personal matters, but your sexuality is a key part of your well-being. The more forthcoming you can be about your sexual history and current problems, the better your chances of finding an effective approach to treating them. Then during the pelvic exam, your doctor checks for physical changes that affect your sexual enjoyment, such as thinning of your genital tissues, decreased skin elasticity, scarring or pain. Your doctor may also refer you to a counselor or therapist specializing in sexual and relationship problems.

How is female sexual dysfunction treated?

You should keep in mind that sexual dysfunction is a problem only if it bothers you. In case it doesn’t bother you, there’s no need for treatment. Because female sexual dysfunction has many possible symptoms and causes, treatment varies. It is essential for you to communicate your concerns and understand your body and its normal sexual response.

Women with sexual concerns most often benefit from a combined treatment approach that addresses medical as well as relationship and emotional issues.

Nonmedical treatment for female sexual dysfunction

To treat sexual dysfunction, your doctor might recommend that you start with these strategies:

  • Talk and listen

Open communication with your partner makes a world of difference in your sexual satisfaction.

  • Practice healthy lifestyle habits

Drinking too much can blunt your sexual responsiveness.

  • Seek counseling

Talk with a counselor or therapist who specializes in sexual and relationship problems.

  • Use a lubricant

A vaginal lubricant may be helpful during intercourse if you have vaginal dryness or pain during sex.

  • Try a device

Arousal may be enhanced with stimulation of the clitoris.

Medical treatment for female sexual dysfunction

To treat sexual dysfunction tied to a medical condition, your doctor might recommend that you:

  • Adjust or change medication that has sexual side effects
  • Treat a thyroid problem or other hormonal condition
  • Optimize treatment for depression or anxiety
  • Try strategies for relieving pelvic pain or other pain problems

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage female sexual dysfunction?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with female sexual dysfunction:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol
  • Don’t smoke
  • Be physically active
  • Make time for leisure and relaxation. Learn ways to decrease stress, and allow yourself to relax amid the stresses of your daily life

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: August 15, 2017 | Last Modified: August 15, 2017