Female Sexual Health & Dysfunction
Sexual difficulties may begin early or later in a woman’s life and can develop suddenly or gradually. The causes may be physical and/or psychological. Fortunately, many sexual health issues are treatable.
Female sexual dysfunction occurs when a woman feels, for any number of reasons, that her sex life isn’t as satisfying as it could be.
How are you feeling?
- I cannot become sexually excited, or when I am sexually excited, I do not become physically aroused or lubricated.
- I cannot have an orgasm, I never had an orgasm, or I no longer have orgasms.
- I find intercourse painful, difficult, or physically irritating.
- I have no interest in sex, or my interest in sex does not match my partner’s.
- I do not feel emotionally close to or trusting of my partner.
In the treatment of female sexual health, we employ a step-wise approach that starts with addressing causes of sexual concerns then implementing evidence based treatment strategies to restore sexual health.
Maneuvers to modify reversible causes of female sexual dysfunction include hormone manipulation, sex therapy, lifestyle modifications including exercise and diet, alteration of prescription medications, management of partner sexual dysfunction, and other behavior modifications.
We offer management of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, Estrogen Deficiency and Female Sexual Arousal Disorder/FSAD with the following therapies:
- Androgen/DHEA Therapy
- Estrogen Therapy
- Anti-depressant therapies without sexual side effects
- Contraceptive Methods
- Dopamine Agonist Therapy
Learn more about female sexual dysfunction:
Studies continue to provide an understanding of the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis, and the ways in which surgeries, childbirth, illnesses, medications, hormonal changes and aging may affect a woman’s sexual experience.Research into this area has become more of a focus in recent years and we are learning more about it every day.
Female sexual dysfunction is associated with negative effects including poor self-image, mood instability, depression, and strained relationships with partners.
- Decreased or no interest in sex–either the woman’s level of interest does not match up with her partner’s, or she has no interest in sex.
- Difficulty having an orgasm–either the woman has never had an orgasm or she no longer has them.
- Painful intercourse–difficult intercourse, or physically irritating.
- Strained relationships–does not feel emotionally close to or trusting of her partner.
Your physician will begin with general questions about sexual activity then becoming more specific. Using a written scale or questionnaire, patients are asked to rate their sexual satisfaction on a scale of 1-10.
There are several types of female sexual dysfunction, all of which are classified as persistent or recurrent and cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.
Female sexual dysfunction is classified as the following:
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: This is the deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity.
Sexual Aversion Disorder: Aversion to and active avoidance of all or almost all genital sexual contact with sexual partner.
Sexual Arousal Disorder: Persistent or recurrent inability to attain, or to maintain until completion of the sexual activity, an adequate lubrication swelling response of sexual excitement.
Orgasmic Disorders: Persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of, orgasm following a normal sexual excitement phase.
Sexual Pain Disorders:
- Dyspareunia: Genital pain that is associated with sexual intercourse
- Vaginismus: Recurrent or persistent involuntary contraction of the perineal muscles surrounding the outer third of the vagina when vaginal penetration with penis, finger, tampon, or speculum is attempted.
Most women who suffer from FSD benefit from a treatment approach that includes addressing both medical and emotional issues. Sometimes a medical solution can be the answer. Your doctor may try vaginal estrogen therapy, or if you are taking antidepressants, changing from one medication to another.
Behavioral treatments, such as stress management or couples therapy can help in the treatment of female sexual dysfunction. Most often, a combination of both works the best.
Non-medical treatment for female sexual dysfunction:
- Communication: Improving your communication is essential to developing better sexual health. Talk to your partner. Listen to your partner. An open and honest dialogue can make a huge impact in your sex life.
- Healthy lifestyle habits: Use alcohol in moderation because it can dull your sexual response. Smoking can restrict blood flow, and the less blood that reaches your sexual organs, the less chance you have for arousal and orgasm. Regular exercise can help boost your endurance, improve your mood, and generally make you feel better about yourself. Also, learning to relax and avoiding stress can improve your ability to focus on your sexual experience. All these can help you achieve greater arousal and orgasm.
- Counseling: Therapy can include sex education, ways to be more intimate with your partner, and suggestions for couple’s exercises. A therapist can be helpful in assisting you to better understand where your sexual beliefs and attitudes originate. These can be a key to identifying your sexual dysfunctions.
Medical treatment for female sexual dysfunction:
Certain medications can have sexual side effects, particularly medications for anxiety and depression. Changing or adjusting these could make a difference. Also, hormonal imbalances or other medical conditions can affect your arousal and orgasm. Be sure to talk with your doctor about pelvic pain or other genital pain you may be experiencing.
- Estrogen therapy: This could be in the form of a vaginal ring, cream or tablet, which can aid in lubrication, tone, elasticity and even increase blood flow. Estrogen can also have a positive effect on brain function and mood issues.
- Androgen therapy: This treatment consists of male hormones, such as testosterone. Although the presence of testosterone is minimal in women, they nonetheless need a certain amount for adequate sexual function. Androgen therapy is still somewhat controversial, but some women have been shown to benefit from this therapy. It can be given as a cream or pill.
The best therapy for female sexual dysfunction is to resolve both physical and emotional factors. Female sexual dysfunction is so complex, that no medicines or hormones will help until you address both of these first.