Common Causes of Sexual Dysfunction in Women
Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) can present in a number of different ways. Some women may want to have sex but have difficulty orgasming, while others experience actual pain during intercourse. These experiences can actively discourage a woman from having sex, and that can add strain to a relationship.
Unfortunately, we're usually quick to blame ourselves, but the truth is FSD is a common condition that can be caused by many different factors. Understanding the causes of female sexual dysfunction, though, can be an important step to overcoming it.
It's especially important to keep in mind that you're not alone in this struggle. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most women will experience some degree of sexual dysfunction in their lifetime.
Types of female sexual dysfunction
A woman's sexual response depends on complex interactions between her physiology, emotions, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle and relationships. Sexual dysfunction can occur when one or more of these elements become disruptive, either with a partner or alone.
To best address your particular problem, it's most helpful to find the underlying cause, which starts with identifying the kind of dysfunction you're experiencing.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are four common types of sexual dysfunction, classified based on the sexual problems that patients report:
- Low sexual desire. Everyone has a different baseline for their libido, and some people may have no libido at all. This is not inherently dysfunctional. However, if your persistent, regular low sexual desire is causing you distress, it may be an FSD. According to medical experts, this is the most common type of sexual dysfunction in women. This condition can be treated with testosterone or male hormone supplementation. Testosterone is chiefly responsible for libido and a small amount can treat this condition in women.
- Sexual arousal disorder. Women who experience this type of dysfunction desire sex but are unable to achieve and sustain arousal.
- Orgasmic disorder. Women with this disorder regularly enjoy sex, but have difficulty reaching sexual climax.
- Sexual pain disorder. As the name suggests, this female sexual dysfunction is categorized by pain during intercourse, which is often caused by other health conditions where the vaginal tissue becomes compromised. Endometriosis is often the root cause of this issue.
If any of these conditions sound familiar to you, the best action to take is to have an honest conversation with your gynecologist, so you can work together to identify the causes and potential treatments. Most of all, keep your partner in the loop, as you don't want your behavior to be misinterpreted as disinterest in the relationship.
Psychological causes of sexual dysfunction
An outdated view suggests that sexual dysfunction is always caused by relationship problems. However, besides being largely untrue, this view can create a stigma and lead to feelings of guilt and shame in a woman experiencing sexual dysfunction.
Recent research has shown that sexual dysfunction is instead often caused by psychological factors, such as high levels of stress, anxiety and even depression. If your condition stems from one of these issues, getting treatment for it may be enough to solve your sexual dysfunction.
Sexual dysfunction as a side effect
Sexual arousal and performance are driven by many chemicals in your body that may also be impacted by common medications. For example, antidepressants, blood pressure medication and birth control are all known to impact libido and other sexual functions.
If you think your medication is contributing to FSD, consult your doctor about changing your dose or switching to an alternative.
Sexual dysfunction is a common, treatable condition. Don't hesitate to visit your doctor if you're struggling—there are solutions, but you first need to identify the problem.