We often see advertisements for men with erectile dysfunction disorder. However, it’s rare that we see solutions for women who suffer from female sexual dysfunction. It has been reported that approximately 43% of women and 31% of men suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction. According to research published by the US National Library of Medicine, FSD has been significantly less researched and less understood than male sexual dysfunction. The report indicates that FSD research is difficult due to the extensive range of triggers.
How do you know if you suffer from female sexual dysfunction?
If you experience difficulty being aroused or achieving an orgasm after prolonged stimulation, this may be a sign. Sexual pain is also an indication that something may be wrong.
There are three different types of female sexual dysfunction:
- Sexual arousal disorder
- Female orgasmic disorder
A reduction in the intensity of an orgasm, difficulty or inability to climax.
- Genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder
A decrease in libido and a reduction in the sexual pleasure and sexual thoughts.
Pain in the genital or pelvic area during penetration or intercourse.
The Sexual Cycle
Sometimes, a patient may experience dysfunction in one, two or all phases of her sexual experience. If one symptom is treated without another, it may cause further frustration for the patient. For example, arousal is treated, but a woman is unable to reach orgasm. The amount of time spent in each stage differs from individual to individual.
Arousal or desire consists of an amplified interest and response to sexual activity. This leads to an increased heart rate, faster breathing and flushed skin. Nipples will become hardened and blood flow to the genitals will increase; the clitoris will begin to swell and vaginal lubrication will begin.
During plateau, the vagina experiences increased blood flow and arousal. A surge in muscle tension, blood pressure, breathing and heart rate is expected.
The final stage, orgasm or the climax, takes place when you reach the peak of sexual arousal. It typically lasts for only a brief amount of time, a few seconds on average. During this time, involuntary muscle contractions are experienced, and there is a forceful release of sexual tension. There is an increase in blood pressure, oxygen intake and heart rate.
After an orgasm, the body slowly returns to its natural state. The amount of time it takes varies from person to person, and usually increases with age.
Hormonal changes may also cause female sexual dysfunction. When your estrogen levels decrease, this may in turn affect your ability to become sexually aroused. There are several factors at play regarding estrogen levels.
Menopause and Childbirth
After menopause, your estrogen levels decrease, which in turn can lead to a thinner vaginal lining. Nearly half of postmenopausal women experience vaginal dryness. Childbirth may also contribute to a change in hormone levels leading to FSD.
Sometimes, sexual dysfunction can also be linked to psychological disorders. Depression and history of sexual abuse affect a significant number of women who suffer from it. Marital issues can also contribute to a lack of sexual desire, as well as redundant sexual routine.
Women raised in cultural environments that don’t endorse sexuality or sexual expression may find difficulty reaching sexual arousal due to feelings of guilt or shame.
Drugs or Medication
Certain drugs or medications like antidepressants may cause sexual dysfunction. Alcohol abuse may also be a culprit. Atrophic vaginitis is caused by a thin and dry vaginal wall, which leads to painful intercourse.
Sexual Makeup and Satisfaction
Some women may find a decrease in self-esteem because of body image issues. Sometimes, undergoing certain surgical procedures like a mastectomy may lead to feelings of discontent.
It has been reported that 87% of middle-aged women who have previously experienced heart failure will experience FSD, which also leads to a decrease in lubrication. 63% women with a history of cardiovascular disease also reported having difficulty reaching an orgasm.
73.3% of diabetic women report having sexual dysfunction. There is no evidence however, linking diabetic complications to FSD.
Gender Identity Conflict
Counseling is often recommended due to the psychological effects of sexual dysfunction.
Having a high proportion of body fat may lead to a hormone imbalance, which may affect arousal and sex drive.
Gynecologic Problems Leading to FSD:
- Lack of lubrication or thinning vaginal walls.
- Sexual pain disorders such as vaginismus and dyspareunia.
- Endometriosis, where a layer of tissue normally limited to the uterus, grows outside of it covering other organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder or bowels.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of female reproductive organs.
- Nerve damage caused by surgery such as a hysterectomy.
Your doctor may recommend treatment depending on your symptoms.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, more commonly known as Kegel exercises, help with arousal, lubrication and orgasm. Women, who experience FSD due to childbirth, usually see an improvement with Kegels.
EROS clitoral therapy device can help with sexual arousal and orgasmic disorders in women. It is normally used for women who struggle with orgasms and arousal.
If obesity is a factor, weight loss is recommended. Quitting smoking and drinking has also been known as an effective form of treatment.
Behavioral Therapy and Psychotherapy
Women who experience pain during intercourse, or vaginismus may see an improvement with cognitive and behavioral therapy. Psychotherapy aids in eliminating inhibitions and increasing libido.
Female sexual dysfunction is not a widespread problem, and more research is being done to figure out the best methods of treatment. Billions of dollars are spent annually for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction, although more women struggle sexually. Zestra® is a topical oil that works in minutes, designed to help women achieve sexual satisfaction.