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Female Sexual Problems

Published on Dec 07, 2021 and last reviewed on Mar 02, 2023   -  4 min read


Having sexual problems affects the sexual life of the couple and impacts the physical and mental well-being of the person. Read this article to know about female sexual problems in detail. 

Female Sexual Problems

What Is Female Sexual Dysfunction?

It is any problem that reduces pleasure during a sexual response cycle. A sexual response cycle includes the sequence of changes that occur mentally and physically when involved in any sexual activity. It has the following four stages:

  • Desire.
  • Arousal.
  • Orgasm.
  • Resolution.

Female sexual dysfunction or female sexual problems can occur in any woman.

How Prevalent Is Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Female sexual dysfunction is seen in about 30% to 40% of women, with lacking sexual desire or reduced libido being the most common. Although it can occur at all ages, the incidence is increased with increasing age.

What Are the Types of Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction in females can happen for several reasons and take various forms. Also, it can occur before or after sexual activity or even during sexual activity. The following are the types of sexual dysfunction in women:

What Are the Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Causes of female sexual dysfunction can be either physical or psychological:

A. Physical Causes:

  1. Gynecologic Disorders - Pain during sex is seen in conditions like ovarian cysts, endometriosis, vaginitis, and uterine fibroids. A vaginal muscle spasm called vaginismus is also a condition that causes uncomfortable sexual intercourse.

  2. Vascular Disorders - For sexual arousal, female reproductive organs like the vagina, labia, and clitoris need an increased blood supply. Any vascular disorder that prevents or reduces the blood flow to these parts can cause sexual dysfunction.

  3. Hormonal Imbalances - Vaginal atrophy or vaginal dryness, associated with hormonal disorders, can cause painful sex. Feeling in the genitals is variably dependent on the level of estrogen. Reduced estrogen decreases the sensation in the genitals. Hormonal levels are affected by surgery, pregnancy, and menopause.

  4. Chronic Medical Conditions and Treatment: Sexual problems can also occur due to certain medications or treatments. Sexual dysfunction is caused by cancer chemotherapy and other cancer treatments that can cause hormonal imbalances. Drugs like antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) also bring about sexual dysfunction.

  5. Health Conditions: The pleasure from sex can be affected by several health conditions. Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cardiac diseases, and arthritis are medical conditions that affect sexual function. A healthy sexual encounter is also prevented by the overuse of alcohol or drugs.

B. Psychological Causes:

  1. Stress: Stress at home or work can prevent sex from being enjoyable. Stress increases the level of cortisol hormone, which thereby reduces the sexual drive or libido.

  2. Depression: Depression can produce a lack of interest in activities like sex, which were once enjoyable. Sexual dysfunction can also occur due to hopelessness and reduced self-esteem.

  3. Relationship Issues: Relationship problems like feeling bored during sexual activity, having sex with an unhappy partner, or relationship strains can produce sexual dysfunction.

  4. Previous Sexual Abuse: Anxiety and intimacy fear caused by previous sexual abuse can bring about sexual dysfunction.

What Increases the Risk of Sexual Dysfunction?

  • Cardiac diseases.
  • Blood vessel disorders.
  • Depression.
  • Previous history of sexual abuse.
  • Medications like antidepressants and antihypertensives.
  • Neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.
  • Psychological or emotional stress.
  • Relationship stress.
  • Gynecological disorders like infections, vulvovaginal atrophy, and lichen sclerosus.

How Is Female Sexual Dysfunction Diagnosed?

Sexual dysfunction is diagnosed by assessing various physical and psychological factors associated.

  • Past medical history and history of previous surgeries like oophorectomy or hysterectomy are taken.
  • Physical examination is done to rule out gynecological causes.
  • Pelvic examination and Pap smear help in diagnosis.
  • Medications that cause sexual dysfunction should be taken into account.
  • Imaging tests are taken to look for tumors, unusual growths, and cysts.
  • Hormonal imbalances can be diagnosed with blood tests.
  • Infections can be identified by taking vaginal cultures.
  • Psychological causes can be assessed with the help of mental health professionals.

How Is Female Sexual Dysfunction Treated?

Treatment includes managing both the physical and psychological causes.

The following are the treatment options:

  1. Counseling: One-to-one or couples counseling help manage the psychological or emotional barriers and makes sex pleasurable. A mental health professional can help in counseling.

  2. Arousal Techniques: Sexual arousal can be enhanced by having a talk with your partner about using different techniques. Also, erotic materials, massaging, and masturbation can be tried.

  3. Medications: Premenopausal women are advised with medications like Flibanserin and Bremelanotide for treating the hypoactive sexual disorder.

  4. Hormone Therapy: Topical creams, topical hormone applications, oral hormone tablets, and vaginally-administered medications may be advised based on the symptoms.

  5. Pain Management: Pain during sexual activity is managed by trying different sexual positions, doing relaxation techniques before sexual activity, or using vaginal lubricants.

What Should I Do to Prevent Sexual Dysfunction?

The risk of sexual dysfunction in women can be prevented by the following:

  • Avoiding alcohol intake.
  • Avoiding the usage of drugs.
  • Doing regular exercises.
  • Taking a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Mood problems or communication difficulty with the partner should be sought help from a mental health professional.

Is Female Sexual Dysfunction Permanent?

In some cases, sexual dysfunction does not require treatment and goes away on its own if caused due to hormonal imbalance. While some may require continuing management. Physicians and psychologists help in providing assistance for sexual dysfunctions.


Sexual dysfunction can occur due to both physical and psychological reasons. Therefore, stress caused by the sexual dysfunction itself can worsen the condition. Talk with your healthcare professional or work it out with your partner and manage this condition.

Last reviewed at:
02 Mar 2023  -  4 min read




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