All you need to know about Female Sexual Dysfunction
Dr. Neha Gupta (she/her)

Dr. Neha Gupta (she/her)

Dec 06Sexual health

All you need to know about Female Sexual Dysfunction

What is sexual dysfunction?

Sexual Dysfunction happens when a person or a couple experiences dissatisfaction from sexual activity. This can occur during any of the stages of the sexual response cycle. Now, this sexual response cycle consists of 4 stages:

  • Excitement stage
  • Plateau stage
  • Orgasm stage
  • Resolution stage

What is female sexual dysfunction?

In women, there can be 6 types of sexual disorders.

 

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder: In this, you experience disinterest in sexual activity. There is lost libido, or in other terms, there is low or no sex drive.

Aversion disorder: This disorder is characterised by a persistent feeling of strong disliking of any form of sexual activity.

Sexual arousal disorder: Any form of intimacy and sexual activity such as caressing and foreplay does not generate an arousal response in you. When you do not get aroused, other physical changes in your body do not follow either. Your genital area will remain dry, you won’t feel excited, and other body changes will not occur. As a result, it will make sex quite painful.

Female orgasmic disorder: The delay or inability to achieve an orgasm or sexual climax is an anorgasmia or female orgasmic disorder.

Vaginismus: The inability to have painless, pleasurable intercourse is known as vaginismus. The vaginal muscles involuntarily contract whenever penetration is attempted during sex. It can also happen when you try to insert tampons or menstrual cups or during a physical examination. Here, a comprehensive vaginismus program that involves exercises, consultations and support programs are advised.

Dyspareunia: Dyspareunia refers to painful intercourse. In this condition, women experience immense pain in their genital or pelvic area during sexual intercourse, and this pain may also occur just before the act or persist after it.

What causes female sexual dysfunction?

Multiple factors, including psychological, social, physical and hormonal changes, can lead to female sexual dysfunction. Let’s look at what these factors may be -

  • Psychological factors
  • Restrictive upbringing
  • Inadequate sex education
  • Disturbed family relationships
  • Traumatic early sexual relationships
  • Early insecurity in psychosexual roles
  • Body image issues
  • Guilt about earlier sexual relationships
  • Myths related to sexuality and sex
  • Mental disorders like anxiety, depression
  • Infidelity
  • Performance anxiety - can happen when there is incomplete knowledge and you are suddenly under the pressure to perform it.
  • Poor communication between partners
  • Safety issues in the relationship
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Physical and hormonal causes
  • Medical conditions like diabetes, kidney and liver failure
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Medications like antidepressants, anti-hypertensives
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug abuse
  • Hormonal changes during menopause
  • Insufficient foreplay

sexual-dysfunction

How is sexual dysfunction diagnosed?

If you have any problems in your sex life, visit a gynaecologist for proper diagnosis and advice. The diagnosis will be a combination of mostly 3 methods:

  • Medical and sexual history: Your doctor will ask about your medical and sexual history. Try to have an open conversation with your doctor, as this will directly impact your diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes, the doctor may even enquire about your partner’s medical and sexual history.

  • Pelvic examination: A physical exam will help the doctor check for existing conditions such as pain, dryness, thinning of vaginal walls, and decreased elasticity that may be affecting your sexual function.

  • Blood tests: To check for any underlying medical conditions leading to sexual problems, your doctor may ask you to take a few blood tests. These methods will help the doctor understand the exact underlying causes and help with suitable treatment options.

How is female sexual dysfunction treated?

While there is no universal treatment plan for female sexual dysfunction, it is usually a combination of medicines, sex therapy and exercise and counselling. The doctor can chart out a treatment plan depending on the symptoms and underlying causes. Remember to separate the facts from the fads and avoid non-medical strategies that you can try at home to treat sexual dysfunction.

Open communication: Talk about the problems you are facing with your partner. Ensure that you are not blaming them but rather asking them to understand what you are going through. It will prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts.

Seek counselling: You and your partner can consider sex therapy from reputable and trustworthy professionals. It would involve methods to improve intimacy with your partner, couple exercises, adopting a new approach towards your sex life and more.

Work on the relationship: If you have any issues or unresolved conflicts with your partner, work it out together.

Explore non-erotic pleasures: Take a break from sex and engage in other pleasurable activities with your partner. It could be cuddling, taking a walk, or reading books - the point is to spend quality time together to revive your happiness.

How is female sexual dysfunction treated? 

Taking care of your general health, educating and updating yourself with sexual knowledge and having open communication with your partner on these matters play a vital role in preventing female sexual dysfunction.

Introduce sex therapy at an early age: One of the most critical prevention steps includes educating young minds about sex, our anatomies and the importance of sexual health. Currently, a lot of information is available, but the sources may not always be authentic. Hence, it is better if trustworthy professionals introduce it.

Talk to a doctor: In case you were unable to gain enough knowledge about sex earlier on in life, it is never too late to learn about it from your doctor.

Consider couple therapy: Couples therapy can go a long way in understanding each other, resolving conflicts, and strengthening the relationship.

Seek therapy in cases of sexual abuse: If you have had a history of sexual abuse, it needs to be taken care of by a trauma-informed psychotherapist.

Vitamin supplementation: Certain supplements and vitamins for sexual health, such as Vitamin D3 and B-complex, are known to improve your sexual function. Make sure to check with a professional before opting for any supplementation.

Consider rephrasing the above para to - Vitamin D3 and B-complex are excellent vitamins for sexual health. While these may improve your sexual function, make sure to check with a professional before opting for any supplementation.

Exercise: By doing regular exercise, you can normalise your serotonin levels. It is the chemical that decreases the libido if insufficient.

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Conclusion

Whenever you are facing any sexual health problems, it is always better to seek professional help from your doctor and sex therapist. Do not try anything without proper knowledge and delay the diagnosis and treatment procedure. If you don’t take care of it, it can affect your relationship with your partner. Most importantly, communicate your problems and needs with your partner(s) to reach an understanding and resolve them together.

Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

Proactive For Her is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalised, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer out-patient care, diagnostic services and programs for various health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause.