Female sexual problem occurs when a woman is not able to fully, healthily and pleasurably experience some or all of the various physical stages the body normally experience during sexual activity.
These stages can be divided into:
- Desire phase (lack of libido or desire)
- Arousal phase (lack of arousal)
- Orgasms phase (lack of orgasm)
- Painful intercourse
In women, sexual dysfunction takes many forms and has numerous causes. It is important to address all the aspects of a woman’s sexuality, whether physical, psychological, physiological or interpersonal in order to resolve the problem.
Female sexual dysfunction is actually quite common, and it has been estimated that about 50% of women are affected by sexual dysfunction to some degree and approximately 30% of women are unable to achieve orgasm.
Causes of Female Sexual Problems
Female sexual dysfunction may be related to physical factors, psychological factors or a combination of both. It can also be a matter of
technique. Some women never fully experience sexual arousal and orgasm because they or their partner lack sexual They may not understand how female sex orgasm responds or are stimulated, or they don’t use appropriate arousal techniques.
Sexual problem has a strong interpersonal component. A person’s view of their own sexuality is largely influence by culture, society and personal experiences. It may be connected to society’s ideas about appropriate or inappropriate expression of sexual behaviours.
These feelings may cause anxiety because of personal or cultural association of sexual experience and pleasure with immorality and bad behaviour. Anxiety is then expressed physically by the body in a way that prevents normal sexual function. Anxiety can stop or slow the state of sexual excitement that allows for lubrication or moistening of the female genital.
Personal Character/Disposition and Life Experiences
Fear of intimacy can be a factor in arousal problems. Experience of abuse, either in childhood or in past or current relationship can establish a cycle of associating sex with psychological or physical pain. Attempting sex in these circumstances causes psychological and physical pain. If anxiety prevents lubrication, sexual intercourse can be painful.
Conflict, tension and incompatibility with sexual partner can cause sexual dysfunction. Depression may be a cause and stress a contributing factor.
Medications such as oral contraceptive pill, antihypertensive, antidepressants and tranquilizers are very common cause of sexual dysfunction. Some women harbour what can be described as sexual resentment for whatever reasons towards their husband resulting in sexual dysfunction. Specifically towards their husband. Adultery by the woman almost always is the end result in this particular group.
Physical causes of sexual dysfunction include disorders of genitalia, and the urinary tract such as endometriosis, cystitis, vaginal dryness or vaginitis. Other conditions such as hypothymidism, diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy can have impact on sexual desire and ability.
Surgical removal of breast or uterus may contribute to sexual dysfunction if a woman feels herself image has been damaged.
Use of illegal drugs, alcohol and cigarette smoking has negative effect on sexual arousal in women.
Although women can remain sexually active and experience orgasm throughout their lives, sexual activity often decreases after age 60 years which may be due to lack of partners, dryness of vagina due to menopause.
Women who do not enjoy satisfying sexual experience with their partners often report the following:
- Lack of sexual desire (law libido)
- Inability to attain orgasm
- Pain or other distress during penile penetration
- An inability to fantasize about sexual situations.
- Indifference or repulsion by having sex
- Feeling of fear, anger or resentment towards their partners.
Diagnoses of Female Sexual Problems
Establishing the cause of sexual dysfunction is half the battle. The stage of sexual activity at which a woman is having problems may offer some clues, others may be found through physical and psychological testing.
Sexual Desire Problems
In sexual desire disorder, a woman experiences a decreased interest in having sex. If the lack of interest is new and extends to all partners and situation, the doctor will likely consider causes such as medications, medical conditions such as depression, hormonal changes or imbalance in certain neurotransmitters.
On the other hand, sexual desire disorder may be caused by interpersonal factors if it is confirmed to one partner and one situation.
Sexual Arousal Problem
This refers to a woman’s inability to become lubricated, aroused or sexually excited even after being sexually stimulated.
This means that a woman may enjoy sexual activity but has difficulty reaching orgasm or it takes a very long time to reach orgasm. Physical causes are rare.
Psychological factors may range from never having learned how to have an orgasm, to unrealistic expectation from a partner, to feeling of guilt at experiencing pleasure.
Orgasmic disorder is diagnosed only when a woman has no difficulty with arousal, only with climax.
Treatment and Prevention of Female Sexual Problems
The first step is to see a doctor/gynaecologist with a special interest in sexual dysfunction.
Physical disorders should be treated. For sexual dysfunction associated with aging and dryness of the vagina, vagina moisturizers or oestrogen treatment such as cream, rings or tablets can be effective.
When psychological factors are foremost, counselling from a psychiatrist, psychologist or sex therapist may help to remove or reduce the cause. The role of this professionals have been unfortunately been usurped by pastors and religionists who see the problem only in the prism of religion, leaving the woman more frustrated, guilty and depressed.
Psychotherapy may be more useful if there has been some trauma in a woman’s background, problems from stress or relationship.
To treat and prevent sexual dysfunction women should understand how their sex organs work, and how they can respond. The vagina is like a muscle, and with inactivity, it becomes harder to use.
Activities like masturbation and kegel exercises can increase blood flow to the vagina area, making sex more comfortable. Kegel exercises can make pelvic floor muscles stronger and help women reach orgasm more easily. This is a technique that women of every age can use to enhance sexual pleasure.
To do kepel exercises, tighten your pelvic floor muscles (same muscles you use to stop flow of urine when you are going to bathroom) for 3 seconds, relax for 3 seconds and repeat 10 times. Gradually increase the time until you are tightening the muscles for 10 seconds and relaxing for 10 seconds.