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Sexual Health

What causes sexual problems in women?
What are the types of sexual problems that affect…
What are desire problems?
What are arousal problems?
What are orgasmic problems?
What is sexual pain disorder?
Can certain substances affect sexual response?
What can I do to enhance desire?
What can I do to increase arousal?
What can help me have an orgasm?
How can I minimize sexual pain?
How can I address sexual problems with a health care…
What should I expect when I visit a health care provider…
What should I expect during treatment of a sexual…

What causes sexual problems in women?

The following are some common causes of sexual problems in women:

  • Aging — It is normal for a woman’s libido and sexual activity to decrease with age
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Hormonal changes — Decreased estrogen levels may cause vaginal dryness and lead to pain during intercourse.
  • Relationship problems
  • Illness, including depression
  • Past negative sexual experiences.

What are the types of sexual problems that affect women?

The general term for a problem with sexual interest in or response to sex is called “female sexual dysfunction.”

Sexual problems fall into four groups, but can sometimes overlap:

  • Desire problems
  • Arousal problems
  • Orgasmic problems
  • Sexual pain disorder.

What are desire problems?

  • The most common sexual concern reported by women is lack of desire. It is normal for some women to feel a lack of desire before having sex. Some may not feel that they want to have sex until they begin to engage in sexual activity and become aroused.

A lack of desire is considered a disorder when:

  • You do not want to engage in any type of sexual activity, including masturbation.
  • You do not have (or have very few) sexual thoughts or fantasies.
  • You are worried or concerned about these issues.

What are arousal problems?

Arousal is the name given to the physical and emotional changes that occur in the body as a result of sexual stimulation.

Arousal can be affected by many things, such as:

  • Medications
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Illegal drug use
  • Medical conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Problems with your partner
  • Past negative experiences.

What are orgasmic problems?

For many women, not having an orgasm during sexual activity may not be a problem. Sharing love and closeness without having an orgasm may satisfying enough for them, but other women may feel that it is a problem and want to find a solution.

Women with orgasmic disorders may have never had an orgasm, or they may have had orgasms at one time but no longer have them, despite healthy arousal.

The intensity of orgasms can decrease with age. Orgasmic disorders can be caused by poor body image, fear of losing control, or lack of trust for your partner.

It is common for women who do not have orgasms to have arousal problems.

What is sexual pain disorder?

  • Painful sex can be a short-term or lifelong condition.
  • “Noncoital pain disorder” refers to pain during sexual activities other than intercourse.
  • Dyspareunia refers to pain during intercourse.
  • Most sexually active women have had pain during sex at some point in their lives, but if it occurs often or is severe, you should see your health care provider.

Can certain substances affect sexual response?

Sexual responses can be affected by drugs, alcohol, and smoking.

Alcohol and drugs affect how your body responds to stimulation.

Smoking can slow down blood flow in the sexual organs and cause arousal problems.

A good first step to addressing sexual problems is to stop or limit smoking and the use of drugs or alcohol.

What can I do to enhance desire?

  • First, address and work toward resolving relationship concerns, stresses, and misunderstandings about sex as well as other issues that may be affecting you and your partner.
  • Focus more on intimacy and less on intercourse.
  • Improve your sex knowledge and skills.
  • Make time for sexual activity and focus on enjoyment and pleasuring each other.

What can I do to increase arousal?

  • Be well rested
  • Do not smoke
  • Try a vaginal lubricant for dryness.
  • Do Kegel exercises
  • Increase the time spent on foreplay.

What can help me have an orgasm?

  • Increase sexual stimulation
  • Use mental imagery and fantasy

How can I minimize sexual pain?

  • Use a lubricant
  • Try different positions or sexual activities that do not involve intercourse
  • Empty your bladder before sex
  • Allow plenty or time for arousal before penetration
  • Take a warm bath.

How can I address sexual problems with a health care provider?

Try starting out with a statement like these?

  • “I do not enjoy sex like I used to.”
  • “I am having some concerns about my sex life.”
  • “I am feeling sad lately; my partner is complaining I never want sex.”
  • “I am just not interested in sex. Do you have any advice?”
  • “Lately, I have been having trouble with intimacy. What can I do?”
  • “Getting older has affected my love life. Is there a fix?”

What should I expect when I visit a health care provider about sex?

  • You will probably have a pelvic exam and a physical exam.
  • If you have pain during intercourse, your health care provider may try to re-create this pain by touch.
  • You may have a blood test to measure your hormone levels depending on your symptoms.
  • You may be referred to another health care provider for other tests or specialized treatment.

What should I expect during treatment of a sexual disorder?

Each type of sexual disorder or dysfunction is treated differently. Treatment can be complex because sexual problems may overlap.

Treatment may include changing current medication or taking new medications, such as estrogen.

If a medical problem is suspected, you may need to have treatment directed at that specific problem:

  • You may also be referred to a sex therapist. Sex therapists help people work on the different aspects of sexual disorders, including emotional, physical, and interpersonal aspects.
  • Couples therapy may also be suggested.
  • Individual counseling may help build sexual confidence by helping you understand how past experiences may be affecting your current sexuality.