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What is Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Female sexual dysfunction refers to continuous problems with sexual desire and response in women. This condition may impact a woman's ability to reach an orgasm. Female sexual dysfunction may also lead to pain during intercourse.

Female sexual dysfunction may occur for only a limited period of time or may impact a woman for her entire life. This condition may also be present only in certain sexual circumstances, such as sexual activity with a new partner. For some women, sexual dysfunction may occur in all sexual situations.

Female sexual dysfunction shows a disorder in an area of a woman’s life that contributes to sexual response. This can include emotional health, physical health, day-to-day experiences, and relationships, just to name a few of the many factors that contribute to sexuality. Female sexual dysfunction may be accompanied by anxiety, depression, and/or stress.

Signs of Female Sexual Dysfunction

Signs of female sexual dysfunction may vary from woman to woman. The main symptoms associated with this condition include:

Lack of sexual desire

A lack of sexual desire (or “low libido”) refers to low interest in sexual activity. A woman with female sexual dysfunction may have a lack of sexual fantasies and general feelings of sexual desire.

Lack of arousal during sexual activity

While a woman with female sexual dysfunction may have sexual desire, she may struggle to become aroused or stay aroused during sexual activity.

Difficulty reaching an orgasm

A common sign of female sexual dysfunction is the inability to reach an orgasm despite sufficient stimulation. Difficulty reaching an orgasm can disrupt the ability of a woman to feel sexually satisfied.

Pain and discomfort during intercourse

Sexual stimulation and penetration may cause pain or discomfort in women with female sexual dysfunction.

Lessened vaginal lubrication during intercourse

The lessened arousal and sexual desire that often accompanies female sexual dysfunction may lead to reduced vaginal lubrication during sex. This may increase the chances for pain or discomfort during intercourse.

How is Female Sexual Dysfunction Treated?

Unfortunately, a small portion of women who are impacted by female sexual dysfunction seek out treatment. There are effective treatment options for this condition that may help women achieve sexual satisfaction. Treatment options can include simple doctor-recommended strategies or more intensive methods like hormone therapy.

Common treatment strategies for female sexual dysfunction include:

  • Counseling
  • Increased communication with your partner
  • Devices to increase stimulation, such as vibrators
  • Lubrication to increase comfort during sex

More intensive treatment options include:

  • Estrogen therapy to aid sexual function
  • Androgen therapy to supplement testosterone levels, which may improve sexual function

Female sexual dysfunction caused by stress, anxiety, and/or depression may require a specialized treatment strategy. Therapy may be especially helpful in managing anxiety and depression.

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