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Female sexual dysfunction is a disruption in the sexual response cycle. The condition inhibits a woman from having satisfying sexual intercourse. This may be due to the inability to feel aroused, pain during sex or reach an orgasm—the causes behind the condition range from physical to psychological.

While both male and female deal with these issues in sexual health, it is much easier to pinpoint the exact problem in men. Additionally, male sexual problems are becoming socially acceptable in ways that female sexual issues have not.

Sexual issues can sign an underlying condition, therefore, it is important to seek help when having problems with any aspect of the normal sexual cycle.

Below are common female sexual dysfunction signs:

  1.       Vaginal dryness

This occurs when the tissues surrounding the vagina are not lubricated enough, which can cause pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse. It may also cause light bleeding after intercourse. Symptoms include soreness and itchiness in and around the vagina.

  1.       Low desire

This is considered a lack or absence of sexual desire and desire for sexual activity. A lack of sexual desire can result from numerous issues, which also includes medical and psychological problems. This may be diabetes or depression; even certain medications can cause low libido. Antidepressants and hormonal contraceptives are considered the biggest reasons behind low libido.  

  1.       Painful sex

Pain during or after sex can be felt either in the vagina or deep in the pelvis. This pain can be caused by an infection or changing hormone levels which causes dryness of the vagina.

  1.       Issues with Arousal

This is the inability to become aroused and can be due to anxiety or inadequate stimulation. Other factors such as dryness or pain can also contribute to this problem.

  1.       Trouble reaching orgasm

This is regular difficulty in reaching orgasm after various sexual activities. The lack of orgasms can put a lot of stress on the woman and her partner. It can be due to limited foreplay, medical conditions or psychological disorders.

 The Causes Behind Sexual Dysfunction

The causes behind female sexual dysfunction signs range from physical to psychological. The table below reads the various causes of female dysfunction.

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Physical causes Psychological causes
Gynaecologic conditions include ovarian cysts, endometriosis, vaginitis and uterine fibroids. This can cause pain and friction during sex.


Depression- This condition can cause disinterest in sexual activities. Feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem can also contribute to sexual dysfunction.
Hormonal changes- These imbalances can cause dryness, which causes painful sex. Low oestrogen levels may also reduce feelings in the vagina. Hormone levels can be disturbed by menopause or pregnancy. Stress- An article confirms that stress can be a contributing factor to sexual dysfunction. The increase in cortisol can also lower sex drive.
Medical conditions- Numerous health conditions can also contribute to sexual This includes diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Drug and alcohol addiction can also inhibit pleasurable sex. History of sexual or physical abuse- Trauma from past experiences can make women anxious with a fear of being intimate. These emotions make it harder to have satisfying sex.

How is Female Sexual Dysfunction Diagnosed?

If a woman finds that they are suffering from any of the above signs, it is best to consult a healthcare provider to find the cause. The patient will be asked many questions about their complete health history, such as past surgeries (oophorectomy or hysterectomy), as they cause sexual dysfunction.

The woman will have to undergo a physical examination to determine any gynaecologic conditions. A pap smear and a pelvic examination will also be done. Any medications taken or taken in the past will be reviewed, as certain side effects can also contribute to sexual dysfunction.

After these procedures, the reason behind the sexual dysfunction will be deduced. However other procedures such as an ultrasound can be done. These images are used to sight unusual growths, cysts or tumours. They can also do blood tests to detect hormonal imbalances, and vaginal cultures can be used to look for a possible infection.

The diagnosis of female sexual dysfunction symptoms does not only involve medical causes, as psychological issues may also be explored. Women need to talk honestly about any sexual challenges they are experiencing and any fears.

How are the Female Sexual Dysfunction Symptoms Treated?

After understanding the physical or mental causes behind sexual dysfunction, women have a range of treatment options to choose from. The choice depends on the kind and severity of their dysfunction.

Treatments include:

  • Hormone therapy- Creams applied topically, medications inserted in the vagina or hormone medications taken by mouth may be suggested according to the symptoms.
  • Medications- Low sex desire can be treated with medications such as flibanserin and bremelanotide. It is typically used in premenopausal women. Other off-label treatments such as sildenafil (erectile dysfunction treatment) may also be an option.
  • Pain management- Several approaches can be taken to reduce pain during sexual intercourse. The woman and her partner use various sec positions, and even use lubricants or relaxation techniques before sex.
  • Arousal techniques- Desire and arousal can be enhanced by making changes in the sexual routine. Women may use erotic materials, such as sexual stimulation devices, videos or books, masturbation or massage.

Is Sexual Dysfunction in Females Common?

Sexual dysfunction negatively affects various aspects of life, such as the self-esteem of both partners, relationships, quality of life. It can also be the cause of other psychopathological disturbances (anxiety, depression and others).

The condition is relatively common, affecting around 43% of women at some point in their lifetime. However, difficulties in any part of the sexual response cycle may last throughout their lives and may happen at any stage of life. It can also occur only during certain sexual activities or all of them.

Sexual dysfunction can be a frustrating occurrence for the affected and their partners, however, they should remember that it is nothing to be embarrassed about, as women worldwide have similar experiences.

Speaking honestly with partners and healthcare providers is essential, as it can aid in finding out the exact problem. It will also assist in deducing the suitable medical approach to the female sexual dysfunction signs.

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