Saturday, December 1, 2007

Women's Sexual Problems

There are four recognised disorders of Female Sexual Dysfunction as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Medical Disorders. These are:

  • Sexual desire disorders – A lack of sex drive or low libido. This is the most common type of sexual disorder among women

  • Sexual arousal disorder – An inability to become aroused or maintain arousal during sexual activity

  • Orgasmic disorder – A persistent or recurrent difficulty in achieving orgasm after sufficient sexual arousal and ongoing stimulation

  • Sexual pain disorder – Pain associated with sexual stimulation or vaginal contact.

None of them is considered to be a sexual disorder unless the woman is distressed about her sexual condition.

Several factors can cause or contribute to sexual dysfunction and these are often interrelated. Physical conditions, such as arthritis, urinary or bowel problems, pelvic surgery and trauma, fatigue, headaches, neurological disorders, and untreated pain syndromes may lead to sexual dysfunction.

Certain medications and including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, antihistamines, and chemotherapy drugs can similarly affect a woman’s energy and desire for sexual activity.

Regular and heavy use of recreational drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines (speed), heroin, extacy and LSD can effect sexual arousal, desire, orgasm and/or produce painful sex.

The decreases in sex hormone levels that occur with menopause and normal ageing may also be at the root of FSD. Reductions in oestrogen levels after menopause may lead to vaginal dryness, thinning of the vaginal lining, and decreased vaginal elasticity which, in turn, can lead to difficult or painful intercourse.

Additionally, testosterone contributes to libido in women so the natural fall in testosterone levels on ageing may reduce sex drive. For some women, hormone replacement therapy leads to greater sexual desire and there is evidence that optimal results are achieved by supplementing both oestrogen and testosterone to premenopausal levels.

Psychological factors including untreated anxiety, depression and a history of ongoing sexual abuse, work-related stress, partner’s health, and family issues may all contribute to loss of sexual desire and consequent sexual dysfunction.

          Awakening Your Sexuality: A Guide for Recovering Women
by Stephanie S. Covington Ph. D.

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