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Going to a Cleveland Clinic location? Sexual dysfunction can happen to an individual or a couple. It refers to any problem that prevents pleasure during the sexual response cycle. This cycle includes four phases:. Sexual dysfunction in women is a disorder that can take many forms and have many causes.
It can occur before, during or even after sex. The most common problems related to sexual dysfunction include:. A lack of desire is the most common complaint. Problems with sex tend to increase as women age, but can affect women at any stage of life.
Sexual dysfunction may be temporary or chronic long-lasting. The provider can do a thorough evaluation of physical and psychological factors tied to sex. Your healthcare provider will likely start by taking a full health history. Past surgeries, such as a hysterectomy or oophorectomymay contribute to sexual dysfunction.
A physical exam can also rule out any gynecologic issues. Your provider may do a pelvic exam and a Pap smear. Your medications will also be reviewed. In some cases, other tests such as imaging may be necessary. Your provider uses these tests to check for tumors, cysts or other unusual growths. Blood tests can help diagnose hormone imbalances. Vaginal cultures may be collected to look for an infection. Your healthcare provider will also explore possible psychological causes. In some cases, your provider may recommend that you speak to a mental health professional or a relationship counselor.
Women can work with their healthcare team to create a sexual dysfunction treatment plan. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about sexual dysfunction risk before starting new medications or undergoing certain medical procedures. For some women, sexual dysfunction may go away on its own.
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It also might only happen at certain times, such as after childbirth or during hormonal changes. For others, sexual dysfunction may need ongoing management. Sexual dysfunction often requires the assistance of different multiple different types of health care professionals, including physical therapists and counselors. Many women experience the occasional sexual issue. Talk to your healthcare provider about evaluation and treatment. Sexual dysfunction can be a frustrating, challenging condition for many women. Talking openly and honestly with your partner and your healthcare provider can help get to the root of the problem.
Therapies are available for the physical and psychological causes of sexual dysfunction.
Most women are able to enjoy healthy, pleasurable sex with the right treatments. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Sexual Dysfunction in Females Female sexual dysfunction can prevent a woman from experiencing satisfaction during sex. It may affect your ability to become aroused, have an orgasm or enjoy sex without pain. Causes can be physical or psychological. Appointments This cycle includes four phases: Motivation, or desire. What are the types of sexual dysfunction in women?
The most common problems related to sexual dysfunction include: Anorgasmia: Orgasmic disorder, or inability to have an orgasm. Dyspareunia : Pain during sex. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder: Low libido, or lack of sexual desire. Sexual arousal disorder: Difficulty becoming aroused. How common is sexual dysfunction in women? Symptoms and Causes What causes sexual dysfunction in women?
Physical causes of sexual dysfunction in women may include: Blood flow disorders : Some research points to vascular blood vessel disorders. These disorders may prevent blood flow to parts of the female reproductive system. The vagina, clitoris and labia need increased blood flow for sexual arousal. Certain medications and treatments: Some medications affect sexual function.
Antidepressants may reduce your sex drive or your ability to have an orgasm. Selective serotonin uptake inhibitors SSRIs are especially likely to cause sexual side effects. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can also affect hormone levels and cause problems. Gynecologic conditions: Endometriosisovarian cystsuterine fibroids and vaginitis can all cause pain during sex. Vaginismusa condition that causes vaginal muscle spasms, can also make intercourse uncomfortable.
Hormonal changes : Hormone imbalances may cause vaginal dryness or vaginal atrophymaking sex painful. Low estrogen levels can also reduce feeling in genitals.
Menopausesurgery and pregnancy can affect hormone levels. Particular health conditions: A of health conditions can affect your ability to enjoy sex. These include diabetesarthritismultiple sclerosis and heart disease. Drug addiction or alcohol abuse may also prevent a healthy sexual experience. Psychological causes of sexual dysfunction in women may include: Depression: Depression may cause a lack of interest in activities you enjoyed before, including sex.
Low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness can also contribute to sexual dysfunction. Stress: Stress at home or work can make it hard to focus on enjoying sex. Some studies show that stress can increase levels of the hormone cortisol. This increase may lower sex drive.
Past physical or sexual abuse: Trauma or abuse may cause anxiety and a fear of intimacy. These feelings can make it difficult to have sex Relationship issues: Some women may be unhappy with their partner or feel bored during sex.
Other strains on the relationship may lead to sexual dysfunction.
Diagnosis and Tests How is sexual dysfunction in women diagnosed? Management and Treatment How is sexual dysfunction in women treated? Treatments include: Arousal techniques: Talk to your partner about different ways you can enhance desire and arousal. Consider making changes to your sexual routine. You may also try erotic materials sexual stimulation devices, videos or booksmassage or masturbation.
Counseling: Talking with a mental health professional may help. You can work through emotional or psychological barriers to pleasurable sex. You may choose to have one-on-one counseling or couples counseling. Hormone therapy: depending on your symptoms, your provider may recommend topical creams, vaginally administered medications or hormones taken orally or applied to your skin. Only women who are premenopausal are candidates for this type of treatment. Pain management: There are several approaches to reducing pain during intercourse.