Human sexual function is an essential component of life. It’s estimated that 30 to 50% of women have experienced sexual issues at one point or more during their life. If the problems continue and are severe enough to cause distress, then they may be placed under the sexual dysfunction umbrella. Female sexual dysfunction is significantly less understood in comparison to male sexual dysfunction and can be more complicated to define.
To get a better understanding, sexual dysfunction can be described and diagnosed in terms of specific problems, such as:
Lack of or diminished interest and desire
Many factors can contribute to a lack of desire, which may be due to regular sexual routines and other lifestyle factors.
Difficulty of being aroused
For women, the inability to become physically aroused during sexual activity often involves insufficient vaginal lubrication.
Difficulty in reaching orgasm
This is the absence of sexual climax (orgasm). It can be caused by a woman’s sexual inhibition, inexperience and psychological factors.
Pain during sexual activity
Pain during intercourse can be caused by a number of problems which can indicate some form of dysfunction.
Involuntary tightening of the muscles around the vagina.
A condition called vaginismus is a painful, involuntary spasm of the muscles that surround the vaginal entrance.
Most women who have any of these issues during sexual activity often understandably lose their desire for sex.
What Causes Sexual Dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction can be caused by either physical, psychological or situational factors.
Physical causes – Many physical and medical conditions can cause problems with sexual function. These conditions include:
- Heart disease
- Neurological diseases and hormonal imbalances
- Chronic diseases such as kidney disease or liver failure
- Alcoholism or drug abuse
Psychological causes – These conditions include:
- General anxiety
- Sexual performance anxiety
- Marital or relationship problems
- Feelings of guilt
- The effects of a past sexual trauma
Situational factors – These conditions include:
- Women may not trust their sexual partner due to previous interactions
- The surroundings may not be erotic or private enough for sexual expression
- A culture that restricts sexual expression or activity
- Family, work, finances, or other distractions
Can Female Sexual Dysfunction Be Cured?
The success of treatment for female sexual dysfunction depends on the underlying cause of the problem. The outlook is good for dysfunction that is related to a treatable or reversible physical condition. Mild dysfunction that is related to stress, fear, or anxiety often can be successfully treated with counselling, education, and improved communication between partners.
How Marie Stopes can help you
Our Well Women appointments are quick female health check-ups available to all South African women at a reasonable price. These women’s health check-ups can be highly effective in early screenings that can be lifesaving.
Well Women appointments can help us test and spot early signs of cervical cancer (pap smear), breast cancer and pelvic disorders as well as HIV and STIs.