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Female sexual dysfunction refers to recurrent problems during any phase of the sexual response cycle (excitement, plateau, orgasm, resolution) that causes distress or negatively affects your relationship with your partner. This condition affects 43% of women of all ages and is most common in those aged 45-64.
The following factors tend to be related:
Conditions that may cause problems with sexual function include
diabetes, heart disease,
cancer, neurological disorders (depression, anxiety, history of sexual abuse),
arthritis, fatigue, headaches, urinary or bowel difficulties,
alcoholism, and drug abuse. The side effects of certain medications, including antidepressant drugs, blood pressure medications, and chemotherapy
drugs, can affect sex drive and functioning.
During menopause in particular, estrogen levels decrease, which can cause changes to occur in your genital tissues and your sexual responsiveness. Intercourse may become painful (dyspareunia), and/or it may take longer for you to achieve an orgasm.
Untreated emotional and psychological issues need to be addressed for treatment to be effective. Factors that affect sexual functioning may include
depression, stress, sexual abuse in the past, self-perception during and after pregnancy, and conflict with you partner.
Factors from different body systems may play a part in female sexual dysfunction.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors include medical conditions or diseases, hormonal changes, side effects of medications, and psychological and social conditions.
Symptoms of sexual dysfunction include experiencing personal distress because of one or more of the following:
Low sexual desire—You have a lack of interest in sex and have poor libido.
Inability to become aroused—Although your desire to have sex may exist, you are unable to become physically aroused or to maintain arousal during sex. This may be due to insufficient vaginal lubrication, anxiety, or lack of clitoral/vaginal sensation.
Orgasmic disorder—You consistently have difficulty achieving sexual climax, or are unable to do so.
Pain during intercourse—You experience pain during sexual stimulation and/or penetration.
is an involuntary, painful vaginal contraction that inhibits penetration.
Because many factors can lead to the disorder, both medical and nonmedical treatments may be recommended.
Medical treatments address the underlying conditions, and include the following:
Changing medication that may have sexual side effects
Treating depression and anxiety
Using vaginal lubricants to relieve dyspareunia, vaginal dryness, and irritation
Possible hormone therapies—these include estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and androgen therapy
Estrogen supplementation, such as the low-dose estradiol skin patch or topical estrogen, can help with vaginal pain and dryness.
Androgen therapy includes the controversial use of testosterone treatment for sex drive/libido. The treatment is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at this time and is only to be used under medical supervision.
Other treatments to improve sexual health and decreased desire include:
Working with a sex therapist
Making lifestyle changes to improve your overall health through things like diet and exercise
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Female sexual dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated August 12, 2013. Accessed January 7, 2013.
Phillips NA. Female sexual dysfunction: evaluation and treatment.
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9/16/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance ...(Click grey area to select URL) Huang A, Yaffe K, Vittinghoff E, et al. The effect of ultralow-dose transdermal estradiol on sexual function in postmenopausal women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008;198:265.e1-7.
2/17/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance ...(Click grey area to select URL) Shifren JL, Monz BU, Russo PA, Segreti A, Johannes CB. Sexual problems and distress in United States women: prevalence and correlates. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:970-978.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.