Understanding sexual dysfunction in women


Female sexual dysfunction affects more than 41% of women of reproductive age globally, making it an extremely common medical problem. There are different symptoms and causes of female sexual dysfunction, which vary across the countries.

An understanding of potential risks and protective factors can help medical experts to identify a high-risk population and devise ways of preventing the spread of the problem among women.

In this regard, we outline common issues about female sexual dysfunction to help people understand what it is, how it is spread, its effects, and it can be solved. Read on for more.

What is sexual dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction refers to anything that hinders response to sexual activity or pleasure. This problem can happen to anyone or even couples in marriage.

It hinders the four phases of the sexual response cycle, which include:

  • Desire or motivation.
  • Arousal.
  • Orgasm.
  • Resolution.

Sexual dysfunction in women is prevalent and affects between 30 to 40% of women of reproductive age. The most common complaint is a lack of sexual desire.

While sexual problems in women tend to increase as women get older, they can also occur at any stage, and they can be long-term or temporary.

Types of female sexual dysfunction

Female sexual dysfunction is a reproductive disorder that is multifaceted and has several causes. Sexual dysfunction in women can occur at any stage, before, during, or after sex.

Below are some of the common problems linked to female sexual dysfunction:

  • Dyspareunia, or pain during sex.
  • Anorgasmia: inability to get an orgasm or orgasmic disorders.
  • Sexual arousal disorder, or difficulty getting aroused.
  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Lack of sexual desire or low libido.

Causes of sexual dysfunction in women

Female sexual dysfunction is caused by either physical or psychological causes. Let’s look at these causes in detail.

1. Physical causes

Physical causes of sexual dysfunction in women include:

Blood flow disorders

The female reproductive system needs sufficient blood flow to facilitate sexual arousal. Therefore, any vascular disorder that hinders blood flow may lead to sexual dysfunction.

Gynecological problems

Ovarian cysts, endometriosis, vaginitis, and uterine fibroids can cause pain during sex. A vaginal condition that causes a spasm called vaginismus can also cause painful intercourse.

Certain treatments and medications

Some medications and treatments affect sexual function in both genders. For instance, antidepressants may reduce the ability to get aroused or libido. Chemotherapy, certain cancer treatments, and selective serotine uptake inhibitors can also cause sexual side effects.

Hormonal imbalances

Hormonal changes may also lead to vaginal atrophy and dryness and make sexual intercourse painful. Surgery, menopause, and pregnancy can also lead to hormonal imbalances.

Certain health conditions

Several health conditions can affect the ability of a person to enjoy sex. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis may hinder healthy sexual ability. Alcohol abuse and drug addiction may also cause sexual dysfunction.

2. Psychological factors

Psychological causes of female sexual dysfunction include.

  • Depression.
  • Past traumatic sexual or physical abuse that causes fear in sexual activity.
  • Stress.
  • Poor relationship issues.

Diagnosis of women’s sexual dysfunction

It is advisable to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing sexual dysfunction. The doctor will assess the physical and psychological factors that may cause the complication.

The diagnosis will begin with a record of past sexual history, like surgeries such as oophorectomy and hysterectomy that may lead to the dysfunction. Also, physical examinations such as Pap smear and pelvic exam may be used to identify any gynecologic issues.

In other instances, imaging tests can be applied to check for irregular growths in the reproductive systems, such as cysts or tumors that can lead to sexual dysfunction. Your results will be reviewed and given to you.

For psychological issues, you will be counseled and advised on the appropriate step to take when engaging in sexual activity. Talk openly and don’t hide anything from the experts.

How to treat sexual dysfunction in women

Women are advised to work together with their doctors to come up with a treatment plan that fits them. However, here are the common treatment methods available.

  • Counseling.
  • Arousal techniques.
  • Hormone therapies.
  • Pain management.
  • Medications.


Sexual dysfunction is a challenging and frustrating condition for many women worldwide. However, it is a condition that should not make you embarrassed or ashamed to speak about.

Having an open and honest discussion with your partner and doctor can help you ease up and allow the medical provider to come up with ways of helping.

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