Sexual Dysfunction In Women
Based on clinical data, sexual dysfunction is reported more frequently in men when compared with women; but is it really true?
The real answer to this question is tricky, because symptoms of sexual dysfunction are more apparent and noticeable in men. Also, most men are rather open to accept and seek treatment options as compared to women.
Is Sexual Dysfunction A Common Symptom In Women?
Sexual dysfunction is fairly common in women and may involve issues with arousal, sex drive, orgasm and sexual energy. According to a new study, 43% females have reported some degree of sexual dysfunction; however, more than 90% never seek medical evaluation or treatment for the management of symptoms. It is noteworthy that impaired sexual functioning can directly affect the quality of relationships, physical health and reproductive prospects in life.
Here are few signs of sexual dysfunction in women that may warrant emergent referral to a sexual health practitioner.
- Vaginal Dryness:
Vaginal dryness may be physiological (due to normal transitions in the hormonal cycle) or pathological (due to physical or psychological disease elements). For example, physiological causes include; hormonal changes during lactation or menopause leading to vaginal dryness. In addition, after menopause, nearly 50% women suffers from vaginal dryness. Pathological causes include depression or other mental health issues, side effects of some medications and certain infections of genital tract.
Regardless of the etiology, it is highly recommended to seek medical advice. Some useful remedies include; use of lubricant and moisturizers (that can help in reducing the suffering). Before intercourse, using lubricants such as aqua lube or K-Y jelly can also ease up things. Moisturizers can be used for maintaining the moisture in the genital tract throughout the day. If there is over dryness, doctor may prescribe a pill called Osphena. It is a non-estrogen pill which relieves pain and dryness due to menopause.
Pain during intercourse can be a sign of endometriosis or cyst in the ovaries. Sometimes it occurs due to vaginismus, a condition in which vagina tightens unintentionally during penile penetration. It is also reported in the setting of dryness in the vaginal or genital tract due to reasons listed above. According to a recent study, about 30% females suffers from chronic dyspareunia (or painful sex), but never seek any medical treatment.
Ideally, it is recommended to refer to a gynecologist for proper assessment of sexual and physical health. In case all health issues are ruled out, pelvic floor therapy and medications may also help. Sometimes single attempt of treatment doesn’t help and multiple trials are needed to achieve fruitful results. For some conditions, surgical treatment is required to treat the primary cause of pain.
- Low Desires:
As a woman becomes menopausal, the hormone levels decline thereby leading to lesser desires and intent to engage in sexual activity. But, these problems are also seen in women who are much younger due to non-hormonal reasons. Study reported in a peer-reviewed journal suggested that low libido can be due to numerous reasons including low blood pressure and diabetes. Being depressed or unhappy with partner can also reduce the lust or desire to engage in sexual activity. Besides this, medicines like contraceptives and anti-depressants can also affect the desire for sex.
To eliminate the root cause, it is important to discuss with doctor. If depression or other psychological problems is the reason, a therapist can be beneficial. Talking to partner and changing sexual habits can also help in revitalizing the sexual relation.
- Problems In Arousal:
There can be numerous reasons for not being aroused. Change in hormones, pain during sex or vaginal dryness not only makes it difficult to engage in sex but can also makes it harder to get sexually aroused. In addition, sometimes poorly managed depression, anxiety, active or past history of cancers, or not enough foreplay can also affect the arousal. Sexual dysfunction in men such as erectile or ejaculation problems can be the reason too.
To find out the exact root cause and get correct treatment, women should discuss their problems with doctor.
- Difficulty In Achieving Orgasm:
Usually when women are reaching towards permanent menopause, they face orgasm issues. Besides hormonal decline, chronic and poorly managed health disease, anxiety, insufficient foreplay and few medications can also make orgasms difficult.
Being cautious during sex and feeling those sensations may help in reaching the orgasms. Using vibrators can be beneficial too. However, like other sexual problems, discussing with healthcare professionals can help in successfully treating the problem.
- Wing, R. R., Bond, D. S., Gendrano, I. N., Wadden, T., Bahnson, J., Lewis, C. E., … & Rosen, R. C. (2013). Effect of Intensive Lifestyle Intervention on Sexual Dysfunction in Women With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 36(10), 2937-2944.
- Bregendahl, S., Emmertsen, K. J., Lindegaard, J. C., & Laurberg, S. (2015). Urinary and sexual dysfunction in women after resection with and without preoperative radiotherapy for rectal cancer: a population‐based cross‐sectional study. Colorectal Disease, 17(1), 26-37.
- Kedde, H., Van de Wiel, H. B. M., Schultz, W. W., & Wijsen, C. (2013). Sexual dysfunction in young women with breast cancer. Supportive Care in Cancer, 21(1), 271-280.